Retail Reinforcements: Strengthening Your Position in the Asia Pacific Market

Customer gets better experience thanks to Retail Reinforcements
June 25, 2023
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What is the key to unlocking retail success in Asia Pacific (APAC)?

To answer that question, we hosted a webinar moderated by Audrey William, Principal Advisor at Ecosystm, and spoke with two pioneers in the APAC retail space:

  • Adam Jacobs, co-founder of THE ICONIC - Australia's largest online fashion retailer, and the Co-Founder of Hatch
  • Rachel Lim, co-founder of Love, Bonito, a multimillion-dollar international fashion label

In this blog, we unveil their biggest lessons into building and growing a successful retail brand in APAC.

Retail Resilience: Back to Basics Amid Disruption Concerns

Adam highlighted the surprising resilience of the retail industry despite concerns about disruptive technologies like IoT, VR, AR, and the metaverse. Contrary to initial fears, these technologies haven't caused immediate disruptions or a total retail makeover.

Instead, Adam said the most significant impact has come from focusing on the basics and improving:

  • hassle-free returns
  • faster and more reliable delivery
  • overall web and mobile shopping experience
  • enhanced product information and imagery

These advancements have positively influenced customer expectations and satisfaction, reinforcing the importance of continuously meeting and exceeding these expectations.

CX: Unveiling the 3 Layers of Success

Both Adam and Rachel emphasised the importance of customer experience in navigating the challenges faced by their respective businesses. Adam shared an analogy of a customer experience cake, where different layers contribute to creating an exceptional customer experience.

Blog Post eDM Illustration

These extraordinary experiences are often derived from direct conversations with customers, understanding their needs, and implementing innovative ideas that truly resonate with them.

THE ICONIC's 4 Elements for Customer Feedback Success

Rachel emphasised the importance of founders understanding their target audience intimately, gaining insights into their needs and concerns. Love, Bonito expanded to physical retail spaces to observe customers in person, recognising the limitations of data alone. They relied on regular in-person feedback sessions but sought a more sustainable approach as the business grew.

Adam stressed the need for a reliable system to understand customer sentiment, cautioning against subjective opinions. He recommended using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data for a comprehensive understanding of customer feedback, including the following elements:

  1. They used the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to assess customer satisfaction and loyalty. By delving into different dimensions of the experience, such as website usability, delivery, returns, and customer service, they gained a deeper understanding of the factors that drove customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
  2. They aggregated and analysed feedback received through their customer service team. This allowed them to identify recurring inquiries and themes, helping them address customer problems more effectively.
  3. They leveraged their website to allow customers to vote for features they wanted to see. This provided valuable input to their product team, guiding them in prioritising and implementing new features or improvements.
  4. The leadership team, including Adam, engaged directly with customers through personal deliveries. They gained firsthand insights into their experiences, preferences, and pain points by speaking with customers and asking questions.

Rachel mentioned that Love, Bonito is looking to drive changes in their business model by utilising data. They aim to use data to inform decisions on production quantities, fabric purchases, and color selections. By leveraging past experiences and analysing data, they hope to reduce wastage and make their operations more sustainable.

Building the Right Team: The Key to Organisational Success

Rachel stressed the importance of finding the right people for the organisation, considering different stages of business require different talents. She acknowledged the challenge of attracting suitable talent, particularly in markets where the service industry lacks appeal. Addressing high churn rates and associated costs, Love, Bonito seeks to collaborate with the government and universities to promote retail careers.

Reflecting on his experience, Adam realised that team quality plays a vital role in a company's success, estimating it accounts for 80-90% of success. Values alignment is crucial when selecting team members, as seen in THE ICONIC's focus on customer centricity, innovation, rejecting the status quo, fostering a collegiate environment, and maintaining a pragmatic attitude.

Adam extended this concept to partners, emphasising the need for shared values to prevent misalignment, citing a failed partnership due to conflicting values.

Key takeaways:

  1. Surprising trends in the retail industry have shown that improvements in web and mobile shopping experiences, faster delivery, hassle-free returns, and enhanced product information have had a more significant impact than cutting-edge technologies.
  2. Customer experience is paramount in navigating retail challenges, focusing on aligning company culture, getting the basics right, and creating exceptional and branded experiences.
  3. Capturing and utilising customer feedback effectively involves deep connections with the target audience, combining quantitative and qualitative data, and engaging in direct customer conversations.
  4. Values alignment is crucial in building a successful team and selecting partners, as shared values contribute to a business's mission and vision for growth and innovation.

To learn more practical tips from Rachel and Adam, please check out the full webinar here.