A recent Computer Weekly interview with Sam Lowe, CIO of luxury fashion retailer Matchesfashion.com yielded some great insights into why and how the company moved from being a 100% bricks and Mortar to 80% Online business in just 5 Years.
Mr Lowe identified several factors that precipitated the company’s changes as:
The Change Within
These main factors prompted a major internal change at Matchesfashion.com that saw them move deliberately as far away as possible from the disjointed till point experience that old style retail stores use, towards a joined up use of technology to present customers with a luxury experience online and in-store. Essentially this has blurred the line between what is an in-store, and what is an online experience - an omni-channel experience.
The internal changes involved:
- Changing the attitude to technology. IT was renamed as ‘Technology’ and was promoted from being just a supporting function to being placed at the centre of the business as the engine for growth.
- A symmetrical and outside-in approach was adopted to allow the business to better understand the customer’s experience of Matchesfashion.com. This involved using the same applications internally that were used by customers and partners.
- The building up of the technology team from 5 to 50 people by having a great proposition that attracted the right people. Being in London helped to source and attract these vital team members.
- Keeping stores but seeing them more as an extra luxury experience to enhance the online offering.
- Ensuring that a single customer view and a single product view are available while growing several channels. This involved connecting POS to an e-commerce system to enable all of the engaging data and imagery, getting a single view of stock to keep on top of things, maintain fluidity of stock, and to enable customers to access new products ahead of trends.
- Creating a user-friendly website with suggestions that follow a customers journey (discovery links), and keeping a close eye on the analytics in order to better know the customer.
The result for customers has been a shopping experience that not only matches their expectations of a technologically advanced modern luxury retailer, but allows them to have move seamlessly between channels (mobile, website and store) to have a great shopping experience that makes them want to return.
In short, Matchesfashion.com is an example of a fast and successful transition to an omni-channel approach to retailing that could provide some valuable pointers for other companies wishing to do the same.