5 Steps to a Successful Retail Brand

By Andrea Culligan, an EO Sydney member and CEO of Hart Effect

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Megan Quinn, co-Founder of Net-a-Porter, speak to a group of entrepreneurs. To make the event even more captivating, Rodeo Show opened their warehouse doors for us to witness one of the most celebrated speakers in Australia at the moment.
Megan started with a quote that brought all of it home to us quickly – “The true Boss of any company is the customer. She can fire everyone simply by spending her money somewhere else.” No truer words were spoken.

When she returned to Australia after 18 years in London, she was shocked to see how much Australia had stagnated. It was disappointing to see a country who had led medical research and technology for years, let so much slide. Megan believes that Australia has become complacent and is focussed on “short termism,” not the long effect on companies and customers. It’s up to us to change this thinking.

Here are 5 key take-away points that hit home for building a great retail brand:

1) Multi Channel
Multi channels are essential to the success of the retail industry according to numerous reports. It also offers an opportunity to create an even more intimate brand value experience for the customer. Having a face to face conversation with the customer and offering them the opportunity to touch, feel, smell, and hear your brand within your own walls is a huge asset. This can be through 3rd party locations or your own shop fronts, as long you have the ability to develop your own brand within the customer experience.

2) Differentiation
Brand differentiation packaging became part of the customer experience. Inspired by the New Yorker magazine image of the bell hop carrying boxes for a woman across the street, every package was handmade with products delivered from all over the world. The 25£ it cost per package was worth the word of mouth marketing that they couldn’t afford to pay for. Whilst it was difficult to justify the price of the packaging when they were running on a shoestring, it was an essential part of their differentiation and still is to this today. Three hour delivery was another key mark of differentiation that only now is becoming more mainstream.

3) Customer Segmentation
Segmenting the customer became a key point as Megan discussed how they reviewed the research and data to make sure that they met the customers’ needs and wants. Her obsession still continues with how segmented brands succeed, and her detailed descriptions of the diversity of the brand experiences between Hollister and Hermes was vast.
Segmentation also led to how she described many businesses focussing on the initial customer acquisition and forgetting about the second or third visit. These repeat visits are easier and cheaper to acquire and using the data collated to segment and understand our customers creates a valuable and customised experience. Segmentation is key.

4) Brand with Purpose/Meaning
Creating brands of meaning is an important part of the conversation and investing in both people and customer is a key part of success. Whilst Megan believes technology is an essential part, she believes it’s the physical connector and people are the human connectors and that the investment in people is critical. Net-a-Porters vision was to give every woman a luxurious experience from anywhere in the world. They held this brand purpose across every area of the experience.

5) Build Brand Loyalty
Net-a-Porter was a dotcom with a difference. They wanted their people and their customers to feel something about their brand. If a customer purchased an item and a few days later it went on sale, they credited the amount to the customer. If the item was sold out, they would purchase it elsewhere at full price, package it and send it to the customer.
Some of these key things Megan attests to the success of Net-a-Porter were a fine line between “Finance and Feelings.” At times were very difficult to measure short term ROI, but proved the long term effectiveness needed to create brand value.
Building brands in a vastly swiftly moving market is tough, in particular as a retailer. Start investing in your brand to create brand value – not just price.



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