Alex and Ani's Journey to Being an Omnichannel Brand
It's hard to ignore the force that is Alex and Ani. Founded by Carolyn Rafaelian, the holistic inspired jewelry company has rapidly evolved from a small business to a national brand that consists of retail boutiques, wholesale licensing, cafes, a professional development program and media company. Alex and Ani's bangle bracelets and charms have been sported by the likes of teenage girls, Olympians and none other than the Dalai Lama. So how did this SMB from Rhode Island become a household name in just two years?
During the opening keynote session of NEMOA's directXchange conference in Providence, R.I., yesterday, Alex and Ani's CEO Giovanni Feroce discussed how by combining Rafaelian's creative vision and his concise cross-channel strategy and focus on providing an unparalleled customer experience, the brand has been able catapult itself from $4.5 million in sales to $80 million in two years. Feroce outlined three key elements to creating an "omnibrand":
1. Think global, act local. "We're committed to finding and keeping talent in Rhode Island, and I advise that you do the same for your city," said Feroce.
Over the the last few years, Alex and Ani has invested in creating not only a strong mission statement and quality products, but in a brand that's uniquely its own. The brand prides itself on a strong commitment to charity, positive energy and being American made. "Made in America is a statement of quality," Feroce said. "Made in America is a statement of pride. At Alex and Ani, we're proud to be an American-made company."
Over the last two years, Alex and Ani has donated over $6 million to charity, as well as partnering with countless charities for its "Charity by Design" jewelry line. Charity is a part of Alex and Ani's e-commerce strategy, Feroce noted. "Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., we donate 15 percent of our proceeds to a chosen charity." In addition, Alex and Ani has grown its retail presence to 1,500 stores, at an estimated profit of $200 million in 2013, and has set the groundwork to evolve into a lifestyle brand.
2. Technology. "Most retailers have omnichannel wrong," said Feroce. "They're reactive rather than proactive. A true omnichannel experience combines an evolving customer experience with best-in-breed technologies. The goal is to better future experiences with every interaction a consumer has with the brand." Feroce cited Alex and Ani's efforts to create a best-in-class digital strategy and its commitment to strong and reliable technology to create a seamless digital cross-channel experience as keys to its growth.
3. Strong platform for positive consumer engagement. When it comes to your customer, actions always speak louder than words. "If you don't act properly, today's consumer notices," Feroce said. "You must listen to them and act accordingly." Feroce stressed the importance of immediacy on social media and all channels. To remember that positive customer interaction is truly the key to success. "You have to provide the technology, act properly and listen to your customer," Feroce advised. "If you do all of these things, and most importantly listen, I promise you'll be a champion."