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'Fulfilment acrobatics' that deliver customer loyalty

Building meaningful relationships with customers and meeting their sky-high expectations remain the biggest challenges when engaging customers online.

Speaking at Drapers Digital Festival today, a panel of industry experts discussed how fashion retailers can stay ahead in the ever-changing digital landscape.

“Anyone who has ever dealt with online service queries knows that engaging fashion customers online is not easy,” said Emma Diddi Nihlen, global head of ecommerce at luxury lingerie retailer La Perla. “We serve high net worth individuals. They are used to a first-class service and they are not used to being told no. We have to perform what we call ‘fulfilment acrobatics’.”

Tayyaba Malik, head of ecommerce and digital strategy at accessories brand Lulu Guinness, agreed: “The digital world has changed millennial customer’s attention span. It is harder to gain customers’ attention and keep it.”

The panel also urged retailers to think about how they can differentiate themselves in a market dominated by international ecommerce giants such as Amazon.

“A significant proportion of our customers are never going to go into a store,” said Andy Cockburn, chief executive and co-founder of referral marketing platform Mention Me. “Amazon is winning because of the size of its range and its operations, and it is going to continue to succeed at those things.

“In the US, 65% of shopper’s journeys start on Amazon. Brands need to differentiate and add value beyond just convenience. Think about how you can drive customer preference for your specific brand and why customers would come to your site as a starting point.”

Amit Sharma, founder and chief executive of customer experience platform Narvar, urged retailers to take a creative approach to loyalty: “Customers engage with brands because of product or experience. Historically, loyalty been about promotions. Now it has to resonate with customer experience. It is not just the product but the experience around it. Not just what I bought, but how am I going to get it? How easily can I return it? If I’m a loyal customer, can retailers offer me a faster service or an instant refund?”

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