Retailers that cater to specific audiences and age segments are challenged to keep pace with their target customers’ wants and needs ― then respond with great experiences on the channels they most frequent.
Charlotte Russe, a mall-based “fast fashion” retailer targeting Millennials, is familiar with these challenges. The retailer specializes in value-priced apparel, shoes and accessories specifically for females born between 1982 and 2001. To better engage its target audience, the merchant partnered with Fluid Inc., a digital agency and e-Commerce solution provider.
The primary goal of the partnership was to help Charlotte Russe leverage new opportunities in the mobile and social commerce that this particular audience helped build, Paul Hollowell, Director of Store and Online Marketing for Charlotte Russe, told Retail TouchPoints.
“We knew it was strategically the correct time to integrate new features due to the variety of advancements that took place within mobile and social commerce within the last year,” Hollowell said. “The new social elements of our web site add to the online experience, and also provide an opportunity to extend our reach to friends of existing customers.”
The new Charlotte Russe web site contains more detailed integration with Facebook, allowing shoppers to comment on product pages, “Like” inventory and post feedback directly to their Facebook pages. Shoppers’ social graphs also can see when they complete a purchase on the e-Commerce site, adding new depth to the browsing and buying experience.
Because Charlotte Russe customers are “inherently social,” Hollowell stated that the merchant sought to connect shoppers instantly to the brand, whether they browsed on a desktop or mobile device. “For instance, our customers told us that they’ll text with their friends about their latest purchases from the mall,” Hollowell explained. “We have put that experience online and integrated it organically without requiring customers to visit a special ‘social’ section of the site or sign up for a new program or service.”
By implementing new social capabilities into its e-Commerce site, Charlotte Russe has re-created the brick-and-mortar store experience for online shoppers and enhanced overall engagement, according to Bridget Fahrland, VP of Client Strategy at Fluid Inc. For example, item images now include badges that indicate whether an item is “Most Liked,” allowing shoppers to keep tabs on hot styles.
“Rather than just integrating ‘Like’ buttons on product pages and allowing commnets, we wanted to develop a current, happening community,” Fahrland said. “In doing so, we’re fulfilling customers’ needs to purchase clothes that are on trend, and to see what other items shoppers are viewing on the site.
The Charlotte Russe e-Commerce site was constructed and rolled out by Fry Inc., a Fluid partner and unit of Micros Retail, while the new social sharing features were integrated by Sociable Labs, another Fluid partner.
Bridging The Gap Between E-Commerce, Mobile And Social
Charlotte Russe is creating an even more consistent experience across channels by including a new “Send To Mobile” feature on its web site. This feature allows shoppers to text messages about Charlotte Russe products to a mobile device ― either their own or a friend’s. The message automatically contains an image and price of the product and a direct URL to the item page for a quick and easy purchase.
Through the new initiative, which was developed in partnership with Mogreet, a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) solution provider, Charlotte Russe is “allowing customers to shop whenever and wherever they want,” Hollowell explained.
Furthermore, mobile traffic to the Charlotte Russe web site increased exponentially during 2011, Hollowell added, making a mobile-optimized web site imperative to growing the business. To better address these developments, the retailer strategized with Fluid to determine optimal designs and calls-to-action for mobilized consumers.
Featuring in-depth images and a clean, concise layout, the mobile-optimized site allows consumers to sift easily through inventory and search for specific products. Timely deals and specials also are promoted at the top of the mobile screen, presenting a clearer path to purchase.
“Shopping via mobile is natural for Charlotte Russe consumers,” reported Fahrland. “We designed all interactions and design concepts specifically for these mobile users.” For example, the retailer integrates large banners promoting sales and deals, and makes images of key products much larger so they stand out better on crowded smartphone screens.
Charlotte Russe continues to refine its marketing strategies to create differential experiences across channels, Hollowell reported. With trends and technologies constantly changing, a consistent evolution is a necessity. For example, the retailer is conducting in-depth research to determine which features and content work best on its e-Commerce and mobile sites. It also is considering participation in other social sites, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
“We’re constantly re-evaluating and adjusting the experience for our target Millenial customer, giving her new reasons to be amazed each day,” Hollowell reported. “Based on feedback from our stores and customers, we’re now giving this young, trendy customer even more of what she loves from Charlotte Russe — amazing, covetable fashion at prices that surprise and delighted her — all while creating a great experience across the channels she loves most.”