With the pandemic easing we’re seeing the return of travel. Which doesn’t just mean a return for travellers but the much-needed return for industries and companies that are built around travel and tourism.
Samsonite is one of these. The manufacturer and retailer sells products ranging from suitcases and briefcases to small toiletries bags.
Like every single travel-related company the pandemic has taken a massive economic toll on the industry. But those companies that sat back and did little renovation work have found themselves at a dead end. Those that took the hiatus to develop their logistics, renovate their ecommerce store, and drive deeper into digital are seeing an escape out of the darkness.
Samsonite has been using Salesforce Commerce Cloud to respond to the rapidly changing customer landscape since the pandemic began.
Despite a hard crisis during the entire 2020, the travel industry is kicking into gear thanks to the widespread vaccine program in which come are calling the emergence of “revenge travel” – where after a year confined to the armchair, the need to get away is bubbling from the surface, with worn-out workers ready to pay for longer and more expensive vacations. (To me that sounds more like relief travel than revenge – you can’t avenge a disease.)
To accommodate this, Samsonite adapted its strategy during the past year in which it updated and unified its commerce systems through Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
“What we saw happen on the website was that luggage items were clearly less in demand,” said Edouard Wattel, VP of ecommerce Europe. “So we quickly adjusted our website merchandising toward more backpacks, kids items, and accessories, which were a lot more resilient.”
After this pivot in product focus, Samsonite’s organic traffic began to slide. “It was essential to adjust and optimize our email marketing campaigns,” added Edouard, “capitalizing on our loyal customer base. It was key to keep engaging them with some relevant messaging, like, [you] work from home, the kids are at home, keep dreaming about traveling or getting ready for your future trips.”
But the uncertainties played out differently depending on the country given the unique situation that each country faced. “We had no other choice than to be more agile as the news kept changing every single week,” added Edouard.
Even accounting for variations in national and religious holidays that are specific to each country, peaks in travel had been fairly set in stone. This gave the industry predictable traveler behavior and patterns to work with regarding things like scaling up, marketing, providing offers, etc.
Covid predictably ripped up that holiday calendar and forced companies to respond in real time to uneven developments across the world. “For me,” added Edouard, “a peak is always an opportunity to build and secure a stronger future for business. If you do well, you’ll have a better chance to see this customer coming back, which is what we all want.
“Clearly the calendar has shifted and it’s still remaining uncertain. We have to be ready for micropeaks happening suddenly. Generally, we expect the second semester and Q4 to be even bigger than it was already, because it will follow the vaccination progress and the so-called ‘revenge travel’ trends.”
Using Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Samsonite can carry out all sorts of scenarios. “What we find is that it’s key to start well in advance to make the best out of it,” said Edouard. “To learn from any single micro-peaks ahead, the wider your time window is, the better you can optimize the [purchasing] journey, recommendations, abandon cart tactics, re-targeting, cross-selling or up-selling.”
Understanding that travellers in a post-Covid world – or in a world where Covid is increasingly on the way out – have more specific needs than two years ago is another key area for businesses to keep in mind.
In addition, there’s been an increase in the expectations of customers when it comes to omnichannel capabilities, whether it’s offering appointments online or remote selling – while trying to maintain that human touch that most of us prefer.
“One of the priorities is to make it unique through the experience,” said Edouard, “but also through the product. So the product can be embossed or engraved on the website, perfect for gifts. You can make it unique, by playing videos to visualize clearly before ordering it, manipulating it through 3D and AR features on the website. And all of this is made to optimize customer satisfaction and minimize the return rate.”
This means that customers of Samsonite can now tap into cutting-edge technology from their site so that they can virtually try on products before buying them.
Click and collect
Shipping methods have greatly expanded through the last year across the world, with curbside pickup and click and collect services picking up amidst the more contactless-friendly solutions. “It’s not always practical to have a big suitcase and carry it around in the city, so you might prefer to have it delivered home from the store.”
Customers are seeking out broader payment and shipping choices. “To some extent,” added Edouard, “post-Covid, consumers are a lot more conscious about investing in service and innovation or in sustainability and durability, rather than just looking for the cheapest [product]. So, we will have to really play this balance between some deals for Black Friday, but not at any cost, because we believe that the category will rebound a lot faster, which is an opportunity for us.”