In-store technology is helping brick-and-mortar stores like Timberland retain their relevance in a fast-growing online world according to leading US retailer VF Corporation (VFC).
Todd Starcevich, Americas VP of direct-to-consumer with VFC, says his company is focused on growing its business at retail level and points to research from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ISCS) reminding etailers that brick-and-mortar stores continue to deliver the bulk of today’s total industry retail sales.
VFC, which owns high-profile brands including Timberland, 7 For All Mankind and The North Face, achieves 85 per cent of its sales in its direct-to-consumer business through its onground stores.
“We are building our sales by focusing on building our retail technology foundation while simultaneously experimenting and testing new technologies and experiences in-store,” said Starcevich.
Consumer insights are woven into every aspect of VFC’s retail business. During testing periods, retail teams watch how consumers engage with various technology and process adjustments.
In one recent experiment, Timberland deployed tablets to customers at its Herald Square store in New York City, allowing them to engage with every product in the store without having to sign up, download an app or initiate registration.
As part of its Connected Store, which was introduced at the last National Retail Federation trade show, shoppers receive a guided Timberland sales experience with rich digital product information, styling options and recommendations for footwear, apparel and accessories. They can then choose to opt in via email to receive personalised content related to their store visit.
Timberland’s Connected Store also offers “tap walls” featuring exclusive merchandise. Nimbus, CloudTags’ in-store recommendation engine, allows customers to shop from an extended range of styles, colours and sizing based on their location and interests.
Meanwhile, The North Face and 7 For All Mankind brands have partnered with California-based Jaunt on innovative virtual-reality experiences. Shoppers at select The North Face stores could experience remote hiking or base jumping.
Also partnering with Jaunt, 7 For All Mankind offered its customers Visions of California, filmed against the backdrop of a Paris chateau using 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D cameras and advanced 3D sound-field microphones. To amplify the content, Elle, the first fashion brand to collaborate with Jaunt, will promote the content across its digital platforms.
Both The North Face’s and 7 For All Mankind’s virtual experiences are available via apps.
VFC’s direct-to-consumer business accounts for about 30 per cent of its overall revenue. It includes 1520 retail stores and eCommerce sites.