If experience is the new loyalty, as many believe, now is the time for brands to align channels, products and programs to capitalize on this digitally-inspired shift in expectations.
Taking this for the lingerie space, we find many of the same experience-impacting issues – returns, choice of payments, shipping – as seen elsewhere, only in a category that is intimate by definition and where shoppers demand the same sensibility in the experience.
Speaking to Karen Webster of PYMNTS, Nicolas Capuono, chief customer officer at Adore Me, said the customer experience must be true to the shoppers’ perception of the brand while taking into account the digital trends that are now considered as indispensable in the connected economy.
“We are a digital native brand,” Capuono said. “Since the first day [we’ve been] a true believer that the online experience can bring something very new to the customer. What we are doing is enhancing … the shopping experience itself on the website, trying to ensure that the customer has the best knowledge of the product and our added value during the two, three , four, five minutes [they give] we.”
Webster focused on the return process as a case in point where that experience with a brand can be a watershed moment. Capuono outlined the decisions that go into successful comebacks.
“Do we refund you when you return the item to our warehouse and are satisfied that you have returned the product?” said Capuono. “Do we apply… some kind of penalty if you return something damaged? Do we give you the option to place another order while your return returns to the warehouse? [Those are] the two key moments of the experience that define satisfaction.
In the case of Adore Me, the first step is not a refund but a credit for this amount to be spent on another product.
“If the customer wants to return and refund, we do that,” he said. “But once you’ve initiated the return, we give you the option to place a new order without buying a second time.”
See also: The Power of Payments in Driving Digital Transformation
It’s a smart way to keep those dollars in the Adore Me ecosystem, avoiding return fees, chargebacks, and most importantly, preserving the customer experience. It’s also how smart businesses operate, as the threat of recession eclipses everything.
“Companies that weren’t profitable before are likely to struggle in the coming months,” he said. “Hyper growth without profitability is no longer relevant to anyone.”
“Digital style” is experiential gold
Adore Me also operates six physical locations, giving Capuono insight into how the digital shift is shifting gears as real life reopens and digital habits adjust to this new normal.
With online lingerie sales now hovering between 15% and 25%, showing the powerful magic that brick-and-mortar retail holds in some categories, he said e-commerce is the main channel for lingerie sales. , offering exciting new ways to engage and convert more customers.
Asked about TikTok’s recent kerfuffle and obstacles to its live-selling approach, he said Adore Me is experimenting with this as part of a test-and-learn strategy.
Read more: TikTok drops live shopping plans in US and Europe
” We began to [offer] that kind of live shopping experience, it can be on Instagram, it can be directly on the website. We have seen very positive customer feedback,” he said. “We saw a lot of viewers. We’ve seen probably 10-20% of [our] revenue at the time generated directly from live purchases. So it’s something that’s starting to be meaningful.
On an experiential level, Capuono said live selling scored points with consumers who felt the quality of interaction was good, without the need for professional influencers.
“It could be someone inside,” he said. “You don’t need a professional anchor, just someone who knows the product well.”
He added that live shopping can reinforce overall messaging around new product launches and offers, layering digital presentation with human interaction for optimal engagement.
Calling live shopping “a way to ease the frustration we have when communicating via email”, he said it was hard to match the effect of live people selling.
“It’s very effective in live shopping where the creative team says whatever they like about [how] they designed the product, and you can really [see] the thought process of the creative team into a live experience,” he said. “It’s very reassuring to have that kind of way to communicate what we’re trying to do.”
This “digital style” is a trend within a trend that Capuono sees growing in its space, even as Adore Me has cut social media spending to control customer acquisition costs.
Inventing the new loyalty
Growing its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business depends on loyalty, and it comes down to the right mix of products, pricing, shipping, and returns. In a word: experience.
In this regard, “the first thing I would say is the product. We see it when you return your first order,” he said. “This is a sign for us that the quality of the product is very important. The second, I would say, is the shipping experience. We see customers who are very demanding on the shipping experience. This does not mean fast shipping. This means a seamless shipping experience.
Balancing the harsh realities of unit economics and shipping costs with the warm fuzziness of a good customer experience is a delicate dance. Adore Me does this using a membership model.
He said, “Membership, by definition, creates additional brand loyalty, additional product loyalty. We have two different memberships. Regardless of membership [tier]the fact that we offer this value proposition is well appreciated by customers and increases loyalty.
Related: Leading online retailers are making customer experience an integral part of the product
Going back to how shipping times and options have a big impact on the customer experience, Capuono said Adore Me — which currently offers free shipping on all orders — is tinkering with different delivery ideas, including the billing for premium delivery (as in super-fast delivery).
“We must have probably two or three shipping experiences at checkout, communicate well on shipping time – slower when you pay, longer when you don’t pay – and I’m sure everyone will be happy with it. ‘have a choice,’ he said. continued.
Another test and learn project, Adore Me is now experimenting with low fees ($5-$10) for premium delivery, and Capuono told Webster, “I’m very curious about the results.”
Avoiding supply chain issues somewhat by having inventory stocked early and then creatively deploying it, Adore Me still faces the same decisions as other DTC companies. For two examples, there are crypto payments and buy now, pay later (BNPL). Neither he sees as particularly relevant to a down-to-earth lingerie company commercially.
He said crypto payments are “probably too complicated for maybe very little additional value. We didn’t even think about it. The one we’re thinking of is buy now, pay later. It could have a lot of potential.
“We’ll be running experiments for this in the coming weeks and months, but I’m still being very cautious…because we have an AOV around $50-$100…so I don’t think buy now, pay later [will be] the bread and butter of our business.
There’s more to come shortly on product and pricing innovation, but Capuono was taciturn. Speaking about Adore Me’s range of on-demand boxes where people only keep what they like and return the rest, for example, Webster asked if these boxes would be priced differently.
His answer: “I will answer your question in a few weeks.” Stay tuned.