I

recently listened to a great episode of the Glossy podcast featuring Janice Sullivan, CEO of Rebecca Taylor and Parker. The conversation focused mainly on using data and personal conversation to listen to & learn from your customers. In today's competitive landscape, DTC brands must take advantage of their greatest tool: the ability to cater directly to their customers.

"I think being able to speak to the consumer directly is the biggest opportunity that these small contemporary brands have"

The direct-to-consumer movement has been powered by this exact mindset. More and more brands pass on the easier traditional retail strategies, and instead choose to own their entire customer experience from first touch to purchase and delivery.

Retail CRM and Clienteling

This hands-on approach has motivated brands to implement new technologies which allow them to collect data, analyze it for trends, and act on any newly learned information. In essence, your favorite brands today are listening to you, even when you aren't saying anything.

In reviewing the tech at play for Rebecca Taylor, Sullivan discusses their integrated CRM system. "We can see the whole history of a customer when she walks in the store. We know where she last shopped, whether it was online or in-store. We know if she shopped at another store and what she shopped for."

The brands doing this successfully aren't just passively listening to their customers, they are actually reaching out and engaging in real conversations with them. When asked about their physical stores and how they play into the brand, Sullivan commented on the remarkable increase in e-commerce revenue in areas where they've opened stores. "We learn a lot about the omnichannel customer. So, then we take our geotargeted lists, and we give them to the stores so that the associates can reach out for a personal in-store experience."

The top brands are able to wade through the competitive DTC waters and distinguish themselves from the crowd, by listening to their customers, learning who they are, and engaging with them where they are.

"The big shift is not wholesale versus e-commerce versus retail. It’s putting the customer in the driver’s seat, no matter where you are; that’s the most important thing. If you or your leadership is thinking of putting her first, then you’re doing the right thing."

The Solution for Small Brands

As I listened, I couldn't help but think, Rebecca Taylor is not a "small" brand. I'm sure any small brand owners reading this are thinking, "If I had the resources of Rebecca Taylor I'd be doing these things too." This is true. Sullivan even mentions at one point that their team is over 70 and growing, not counting store staff. However, there are affordable tools available for small brands today and processes they can be putting in place right from the start.

Omni-channel CRM Tools

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, software is a tool that integrates with your ecommerce and/or POS platform to capture and organize your customer data. Many brands already implement these types of tools on their e-commerce sites, but miss out on valuable opportunities to capture customer information at stores, pop-ups, and events. Endear, is an affordable example of an omni-channel CRM tool that centralizes your customer data from all platforms so that you can capture information while interacting with a customer and immediately have it documented in their client profile.

Clienteling

Clienteling is the process of creating a personalized experience for each and every customer. Many brands who attempt clienteling find limited success given how manual and time-consuming it can be without the right tools. When most customers enter a store, they're seen only as a potential sale, and often times, that's how they get treated.

Smaller brands can take advantage of their size and build close personal relationships with their customers. A tool like Endear gives associates access to client profiles to view purchase history, and build relationships with personal outreach. And no matter how big you get, Endear will help ensure you're maintaining that same level of closeness with your customers.

One example of how small brands can use Endear is by creating campaigns to invite customers in for personal shopping experiences, and then putting together personal lookbooks built for their style preferences. A simple follow-up thank-you message with the lookbook attached is as personal as it gets.

While it is certainly easier and less stressful for brands like Rebecca Taylor to implement data collection and clienteling methods, it isn't impossible for smaller brands to follow suit. Endear is an example of an affordable solution brands can install and start benefitting from immediately.

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