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Case Profile: Retail Apparel Group Enhances Customer Experience
As any retailer is well aware, nailing the customer experience, be it online or storefront, is vital to a brand’s success. Power Retail got the lowdown from Retail Apparel Group’s Peter Ratcliffe on how the Group ensures it delivers exceptional service across its portfolio of brands.
The brands are synonymous with smart casual menswear, with each appealing to specific age and attitudinal market segments, and renowned for consistently inspired product ranges, mid-market appeal and strong in-store service.
RAG’s number one priority is the customer experience. The fundamental need for the business has been to explore more efficient ways to integrate, streamline and manage complex product data between its POS system, e-commerce platform, multiple brand websites, online sales channels and 3PL service provider.
Power Retail caught up with Peter Ratcliffe, Head of Digital for Retail Apparel Group, to discuss how he ensures exceptional service across the portfolio of brands and channels.
How important a priority is customer experience management for RAG?
The customer is king and we want to ensure the experience is consistent and enjoyable across all touch points.
What are some key challenges you’ve faced when it comes to customer experience management?
The biggest issue we had was multiple systems across the channels. Our aim is to get personal with our customer so we had to ensure that data collected across multiple touch points created a single view of the customer, which will be the foundation of our personalisation strategy.
Consistency in data such as pricing across all channels is another key challenge, as is the collection of data at POS and the capacity to provide data feeds to affiliates and marketplaces with simplicity.
How can technology assist in maximising the customer experience and which technologies do you use to power this area of your e-commerce business?
Having your online and POS systems in line with each other is integral. With the help of data integration and cloud-based e-commerce solutions, Fusion Factory, we deployed Flow Integration software and CommerceConnect. The Flow Integration software synchronises data between our POS system and e-commerce platform, and CommerceConnect provides unified data feeds for our existing online channels, which include Commission Factory, Google Shopping, Getprice, Rakuten Affiliate Network, Rakuten Display, Bazaarvoice, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget).
To ensure consistency and integrity of data, the use of a middleware platform to transport data across disparate systems and to marketplaces and other partners is essential.
With CommerceConnect we now have a centralised solution to manage the data for our four iconic clothing brands. This also includes managing our variable sale price adjustments — previously handled manually in the POS system. We now have uniform pricing between our bricks-and-mortar and online sales channels, all in one system.
Our business is now streamlined and automated, making it easy to integrate data across multiple systems and sell across as many online channels as RAG require. With the improvement in operational efficiency, we’ve seen an increase in repeat purchases, an uplift in online sales and we can launch new products to market within a few hours. Customer engagement is higher and the omnichannel shopping experience is enhanced as a consequence.
What do you consider current best practice in customer experience management?
- Customer engagement across all channels including social, online and in-store
- Understanding your customer
- Ensuring accuracy of data – integrity of data and systems
- Consistent journey/experience regardless of channel
- Listening to our customer and acting upon insights
Which are the current e-commerce trends of most interest to you now?
- Seamless experience across all channels
- In-store technology
What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Australian e-commerce businesses, and what could be done to address these? What are the biggest opportunities?
From on an online front end perspective we are up there with any other country. The Australian online industry has grown rapidly. I believe our biggest problem is our back end systems. A lot of companies have band-aided their back end system to ensure the customer facing front end provides the best journey possible for the customer. The only way we have found to do this is with the use of middleware to manipulate data between the systems.
Personalisation represents a great opportunity – getting the data right and building the foundations.
What lies ahead for RAG?
We’re currently about to go to market to replace our current online platform with a much more robust and responsive platform that will allow us to react more quickly to marketplace demands, and can be used across all devices. Omnichannel is big for us and we want to ensure all channels talk seamlessly to each other so the customer is able to shop across all channels anytime, anywhere.
Moving heavily into personalisation across our digital channels and bringing this into store and online will also be a key focus.