Tommy Bahama's CEO Talks Experiential Retail
Tommy Bahama is winning over today’s distracted consumers by focusing on unique, unconventional retail experiences for them, according to Doug Wood, CEO of the Seattle-based manufacturer and retailer of casual men's and women's sportswear and activewear, who spoke at the 2017 SAP Retail Executive Forum in New York City yesterday.
Case in point: Wood discussed the Tommy Bahama Cabana Room, which is a shop-in-a-shop concept it launched in its New York flagship store earlier this year. The 300-square-foot shop is intended to deliver an immersive swimwear shopping experience in an inviting environment reminiscent of a modern resort cabana. The shop, which features Tommy Bahama’s complete women's swimwear collection, has trained fit specialists on hand to work with guests to define their swimwear needs and recommend a selection of styles to fit and flatter.
“The most vulnerable a woman feels is when she is buying a swimsuit, so we had to set up an environment where she's incredibly comfortable and has specialists there to help her,” Wood said. “The help of trained fit specialists gives an added boost of confidence and provides quality personal service.”
To further enhance the shopping experience, the Cabana Room features two "Swim Finder" video screens that display a digital catalog of the entire Tommy Bahama swimwear assortment. Guests can use the monitors to select any item, including those not available in the Cabana Room, and have it shipped directly to their home.
As for the ultimate experiential environment, Wood discussed Tommy Bahama's restaurants. There are more than 160 company-owned Tommy Bahama retail stores worldwide, 16 of which include a Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar.
“I’m really proud of our experiences inside of our restaurants with retail,” Wood said. “It’s driving an experience. I know there's been a lot written about experiential retail, but when you do it, and you do it right, it’s a beautiful thing. That's what we've been able to do with our restaurant business."
Currently, Wood said he's excited about a new restaurant concept Tommy Bahama launched in November in its Coconut Point, Fla. retail store that offers a bar and meals that can be delivered to consumers in under eight minutes.
"We opened it in November, and have seen an amazing lift to our retail business," noted Wood. "For example, in Coconut Point, our women’s business is up 80 percent. We're also seeing an increase in frequency. Instead of coming every quarter, consumers are coming in twice a week. The food is great and, guess what, there’s a new delivery on the floor and it’s very easy [for them] to take a look.”
The concept, which Wood said is called the Marlin Bar, is rolling out in the company's Palm Springs location next year.
Wood, who was interviewed by Andrea Weiss, founder and CEO of The O Alliance, also discussed Tommy Bahama’s culture and approach to hiring.
“We [choose] candidates who understand that it’s not about you winning; it’s about us winning,” Wood said. ”We don’t try to set up competition between channels. It’s all about one number. If the business comes through one channel or another, what's most important is that the guest came to us from any channel.”
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Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.