When retailers talk about meeting the needs of today's consumers, speed is frequently cited as a differentiating factor. From speed to market with new inventory to quick checkout to expedited delivery, it seems all retailers want to do everything fast. That's why it's a little surprising to hear John Hazen, senior vice president, direct to consumer at True Religion, say that he wants to slow the shopping experience down – at least in-store.
This week at the Demandware XChange Conference in Hollywood, Fla., Hazen discussed why slowing the customer down is good for True Religion's business. The more time shoppers spend in True Religion's stores, the more likely they are to make a purchase – in-store or online. In an effort to increase dwell time time in its stores, the retailer of designer apparel for women, men and kids has launched a pilot program for an endless aisle solution that involves store associates wearing Apple Watches.
Here's how the solution works: consumers shopping in True Religion stores are able to browse merchandise that might not be available on the sale floor via the Apple Watches on the wrists of store associates. Merchandise selections can be filtered by size, color and fit. The pilot is currently in two True Religion stores (Beverly Hills, SoHo), with plans to roll it out to 20 more by the end of the year.
“Experience is the differentiator in today's retail environment,” Hazen said.
Make it Simple
In order for True Religion's endless aisle solution to work, it needs to get buy in from store associates. And for that, it needs to be simple to use, Hazen said. He gave a live demo of the app during his presentation at XChange to show it is indeed simple to use. In addition to ease of use, for it to work store associates must be incentivized right away for sales made via the endless aisle app, Hazen added.
“Their [store associates] sole reason for performance is meeting their sales goals and getting their commissions,” Hazen said. “Otherwise, they look at the tool as the enemy.”
True Religion is tracking an unexpected bonus from the use of the endless aisle app in its stores. Having real-time access to the retailer's full product assortment at all times in-store not only is saving potentially lost sales, but it's driving impulse purchases as well, Hazen said.
Consumers increasing use of mobile devices (i.e., smartphones) to shop has been a discussion point for retailers for a while now. Yet for many retailers mobile has yet to reach that tipping point, still accounting for a relatively small percentage of site traffic and overall revenues. That's not the case for True Religion. Seventy-two percent of the retailer's full-price site traffic comes from mobile devices. A whopping 92 percent of True Religion's outlet site (laststitch.truereligion.com) traffic is from mobile. And the retailer boasts best-in-class conversion rates for mobile, Hazen said.
Mirroring its endless aisle app, True Religion's mobile site is all about simplicity. It lacks the bells and whistles that are commonly found on other retailers' mobile sites – e.g., customer reviews, quantity buttons. Hazen believes the true test of a product is if you take all of the extras away and it can still stand on its own.
“We're mobile first, but not mobile only,” noted Hazen. “Our overall goal is to satisfy our customers' needs – no matter the channel. We want to let them shop the way they want to shop.”
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