ECCO is a Danish shoe manufacturer and retailer that was setup in the early ‘60s. A lot has changed since then and particularly how consumers browse and shop.
Yet despite the revolutionary waves of tech and commerce innovation, the humble store is still an integral part of the retail landscape.
So while ecommerce continues its onward march up the commerce hill, physical stores still make up around 92% of total retail sales. So what are leading brands and retailers to do about this complexity?
They are evolving their approach to commerce and equipping their customer-facing teams with better tech, and blurring the lines between what is digital and what is physical.
In attempting to tie these two spaces together, ECCO has integrated its digital journeys with their in-store experiences.
ECCO brings in around €1.3 billion (around $1.5 billion) a year and operates close to 3,300 stores across the world. For a few years it had traveled itself down the online journey but realized that they were missing something. They were missing the opportunity to merge two sales channels into one.
Back in 2015, ECCO USA started to pilot a new feature at the time of Salesforce B2C Commerce Cloud. That feature was Endless Aisle, a platform that arms store associates with rich and relevant data on the customer so that they can provide good recommendations and preferences of the customer, check inventory in warehouses, and help them order online if a particular product is not available in the store.
Endless Aisle essentially saves a sale from being lost.
“There is a sea change in the role of the store associate and an opportunity to meet the consumer’s needs through Endless Aisle,” said Dana Schwartz, the director of marketing and ecommerce at ECCO USA.
In-store, helped by tech
ECCO first started out trialing Endless Aisle in one of its stores in Massachusetts. Through an iPad to help shoppers, store associates could find merchandise or even make orders for shoppers themselves. In preparing them, ECCO trained its staff to make sure that they were first comfortable with the platform.
“You can’t just put a tablet in the store and expect it to be successful,” added Dana. The platform acts as a sales extension of the store worker, empowering them to provide customers great care.
ECCO actually discovered that a high number of online transactions that were carried out in the store was due to the fact that a customer’s correct size wasn’t available in the store.
“It’s about offering premium-ness,” added Dana. “We are a high-service company, and we don’t want to disappoint our customers.” In the past, these points of sales were actually manual and took quite a bit of time. “Now, we can engage with the shopper anywhere in the store, and ship for free to provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience.”
Ecco was actually an early adopter of Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s Endless Aisle. After their initial pilot period, they expanded it to five more stores before rolling it out to all of its 26 stores in the US.
Endless Aisle allows room for customization, which ECCO used to build a survey for their associates to complete after a sale has been made. It includes questions such as “Was the store out of stock of the color or size? Why did the customer engage with the associate? Was the customer traveling? Where did the store ship the merchandise?”
From this customized survey, the brand was able to find valuable information and insight into its own customers’ behaviors and preferences.
“It was a great result that we didn’t expect,” said Dana, “an aha moment where we are now able to forecast better because we know more. I’m a big believer that merchandising is a point of differentiation. This data helps us understand what the customer wants and where they buy.”
The promise of digitizing its stores has unleashed greater potential for ECCO. “We are still learning and on our journey toward becoming a consumer-first brand,” said Dana. “We are not in the technology business; we are in the business of making and selling shoes, in an engaging and premium way through commerce.”