In an interview at eTail East in Boston earlier this year, Behzad Soltani, chief digital officer at Movado Group, parent company of leading watch brands such as Movado, Concord, EBEL, Hugo Boss Watches, and more, detailed the company's commitment to being an omnichannel organization, from operations to marketing, among other functions. Soltani participated on a panel at the event titled, Omnichannel is Table Stakes — What Are You Serving?
Total Retail: What does it mean for Movado to offer an omnichannel customer experience?
Behzad Soltani: For Movado Group, and I would assume all brands, the notion of omnichannel is a little bit more complicated than your traditional omnichannel. I used to work at Staples, for example, and we had stores and our online channel, and as long as those systems and experiences were pretty unified, that was, ‘OK, check. You've delivered omnichannel.’
In the case of brands, it gets really complicated. Companies like Movado have direct-to-consumer businesses and we have our stores, so we certainly want to make sure that we're providing a frictionless experience in those environments. But then you go to your retail partners, or what we call our “customers,” and they’re selling your product. They have a retail and an online digital presence, so you have to make sure those environments also deliver on the brand experience. That’s still manageable if you collaborate with them. But then when you get into marketplaces, that’s when things get really challenging.
How do you ensure that the brand experience is consistent on an Amazon.com or eBay? People are buying your products — they’re buying a Movado watch, and there are certain things they expect, from packaging to how the product is supposed to perform. We have a very stringent quality control process. So, everything that leaves our warehouses for direct-to-consumer fulfillment are meticulously monitored to make sure the product that goes is perfect, flawless. Nothing has happened to it during transportation, so by the time it gets to the consumer they have a world-class experience.
On a marketplace, that’s really difficult to do. You’ve got a third-party person that got the product God knows from where, they put it on the marketplace, and when they’re shipping it you don’t know if they’ve gone through the same process. Some of those things we can control, but some of it we can’t. There are things we can control. I have to give credit to Amazon and its Brand Registry program.
With Brand Registry, we're able to put content up on the marketplace — our own product descriptions, our own product photos. You can control the visual experience. Also, chat has been very useful. People go to the marketplace and see our products, and the first thing they do is go to the brand’s website to look up the product. They have questions, because obviously you can’t possibly have all the answers to their questions — it’s a high-consideration purchase. If someone is buying a watch that’s between $700 to $1,000, you want to make sure that people are comfortable and they know the product they’re getting.
TR: What marketplaces are Movado Group products available for sale on?
BS: Our products are being sold on just about every marketplace. We can’t control it. And then on some marketplaces, for example Tmall in Asia, we do have our own flagship store. But similar to Amazon, there are a bunch of other people that are on the platform that also sell the product. Having that flagship store helps quite a bit because that’s where people know to go to get first-party, direct-from-the-brand information about the product.
TR: Is wholesale the primary revenue generator for Movado?
BS: Yes. Historically Movado Group has been a wholesale business. Now we've established our direct-to-consumer businesses, and we've made some acquisitions in that space — for example, MVMT Watches, which started as a digital-native, direct-to-consumer brand. That has helped to catapult that part of our business significantly.
TR: What types of customer data is Movado Group collecting, and how does that factor into creating seamless omnichannel experiences?
BS: We’ve been making a lot of investments in our digital business. Analytics and customer first-party [data] has been a primary focus for us. We’ve invested in a customer data platform so that we can capture customer behavior, both anonymous and consumers that log in and share their transactional information with us.
We’re analyzing a lot of data — how they interact with our products online; what products they’re looking at; and the reviews and feedback we get through our own direct sites, our customers’ sites, and marketplaces. We have technology that looks at all of those. We design our watches, so we do capture that information and share it with our design teams. We can begin to see trends — for example, what people like and don’t like about our product. And then obviously we capture a lot of on-site behavior information, just like any other e-commerce site, that helps us with our conversion.
TR: How frequently is Movado Group making changes to its websites based on customer behavior and feedback?
BS: It depends on the type of data point. If it’s a general e-commerce data point on site behavior and experience, that’s daily. We have tools that monitor everything, and we act pretty quickly. For example, the technology — what things to deploy, what things to evaluate. One of the capabilities that Evergage has given us is a testing tool and visual editor. Without doing a lot of development work, we can go to the website and move things around, add elements, etc. We leverage that tool quite a bit.
Other things like capturing customer feedback is being scraped on a daily basis, but we analyze it and report on it on a monthly basis. We design and manufacture our own watches, and that’s a lengthy process. Therefore, we want to make sure that we consider customer input on an ongoing basis.
TR: What are some of the technology providers that are helping Movado Group to better engage its online customers?
BS: We use Salesforce for our e-commerce platform. We’ve consolidated and gone onto Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud platform, which is SFRA, and we're migrating every single direct-to-consumer brand over to that platform. The platform is built from ground up mobile-first. We’re seeing a huge percentage of our traffic coming from mobile. It’s really exciting to have a platform that's mobile friendly.
What we're trying to do is make the watch buying experience on the web as tactile as possible. That starts with content and things like photography so people can have visual representations of the product. One of the complexities that exists in the watch space is a lot of things are measured in millimeters, and not everyone is familiar with that unit of measurement. And even if you are, the question still is, “How is that going to look on my wrist?” One of the technologies that we're experimenting with and really excited about is augmented reality. I think some of the applications that are out there for that particular technology are really good — they help the user actually visualize the product on their wrist, helping them to get a sense of its size.
TR: You mentioned the significant volume of site traffic that’s coming from mobile devices. Are you seeing the conversion rate of those visitors lag behind desktop shoppers?
BS: Mobile conversion is definitely lower than desktop conversion, but our traffic is so heavily on mobile that from a revenue split it’s equal if not higher. Which at this point is pretty unique. The challenge with mobile has historically been the checkout process — it’s very time consuming to put all of that information on a mobile device. But things like Apple Pay and PayPal really simplify that. As part of our migration on SFRA, Apple Pay has been turned on, and we’re pretty happy with what we're seeing.
TR: What are the metrics that Movado is tracking to help it measure the effectiveness of its omnichannel initiatives?
BS: For our e-commerce, direct-to-consumer businesses we’re tracking the general metrics of traffic, conversion and product views. And then on the marketing side, we’re heavily focused on performance of digital channels. We’ve been putting a lot of time and energy there as social media and digital marketing has become a lot more dominant from our marketing spend. We’re getting efficiency out of our spend. That’s an area where I’m really proud of our data science team. They've built very complex models that we can use for multitouch attribution across email, paid search, organic traffic. Also, our customer reviews and product feedback are very important to us. That data gives us an indicator of how consumers like our products and what each particular product is resonating for.
TR: How are you dealing with the challenge of tracking customers that are researching products online, but still want to go in-store, whether it be a Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc., to see the product in person and try it on?
BS: Our No. 1 objective is to sell our products — it doesn’t matter where the customer purchases it. We are just as happy if they buy it on macys.com or a Macy’s store vs. movado.com. Because of privacy issues it’s obviously not as simple as being able to throw pixels on sites and track that, but through our data science team, as we run digital campaigns — if the scale is large enough — we can directly see.
TR: Going forward, what are the focus areas for Movado Group as it looks to improve its customer experience, particularly online?
BS: No. 1 for us has been to consolidate our commerce platforms. Also, build up our engineering capabilities. And overarching on all of this is that we’ve established a digital center of excellence. We have various teams within the digital center of excellence, and those teams are focused are various parts of our digital experience.
The first part is digital experience and product management. They're responsible for our e-commerce platforms from a perspective of technology and UI/UX, and our engineering capabilities such as site development. The second team focuses on our direct-to-consumer site from a merchandising and P&L responsibility. The third piece is our digital marketing team, and they're focused on customer acquisition and managing our paid media. Our fourth group, our data scientists, stays very close to all of the elements we talked about, from site speed to site performance to digital marketing performance, as well as all of our dashboard and metrics management. All data analysis goes through our data science team. And last but not least is our China e-commerce team. I have a separate team just because e-commerce is so different in China.
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