The men’s apparel category in the U.S. has been commonly associated with highly promotional pricing and traditional marketing. TV, radio and print ads with “buy 1-get 1” suit offers have almost become the expected engagement route for many menswear brands.
However, a growing retail brand out of Holland is quickly rewriting the rules for connecting with and servicing men’s apparel customers across channels and devices.
Suitsupply, founded in 2000 in Amsterdam, has rapidly gained noticed among industry watchers, as well as consumers, for:
• High-touch customer service, with 80+ stylists providing consistent customer experiences across all channels;
• Use of social messaging applications that hyper-personalize customer communications;
• Extensive use of in-store digital signage to share “insider information” from social channels; and
• “Last mile” innovations such as using Uber Rush for deliveries or for providing customers with a ride to Suitsupply stores.
The brand has expanded to 70 stores worldwide, with 22 in the U.S. and an additional 15 new locations slated to open over the next six months in North America and China.
Suitsupply also has grown its online business with a keen focus on integrating its web experience into its brick-and-mortar locations, and recently debuted a different twist on the Trunk Club subscription model.
A Unique Twist On Personalized Styling
Helping to fuel significant growth and innovation, Suitsupply has invested in technology and is working closely with Salesforce.com. The retailer is utilizing the company’s Commerce Cloud for customer recognition both in-store and online, and the Service Cloud to help ensure more than 80 stylists are providing consistent customer experiences across all channels.
Suitsupply also is using the Force.com platform to drive agile development of new customer-facing applications, including its new The Box Office by Suitsupply personal styling offering. Unlike other personal stylist models, The Box Office does not require a subscription, and new collections are only selected and sent 2x per year. Another unique twist with The Box Office is the fact that the personal stylists communicate with customers via messaging applications like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, rather than email, to hyper-personalize the experience.
Speed is a critical competitive differentiator for the brand, Martijn van der Zee, Marketing Director at Suitsupply, told Retail TouchPoints in an exclusive interview. Therefore agile development for new applications is an imperative to fuel the company’s success. “With older legacy software systems in place, it could have taken us years to deploy these new business models, but we’ve now been able to pilot projects in weeks and have them live within a few months,” van der Zee said. “Instead of relying on legacy systems, Suitsupply has employed the motto of ‘move fast and break stuff’.”
Speed also is critical in the company’s pursuit of being “omnichannel delighters” for its customers. Suitsupply stores merge the digital experience into brick-and-mortar locations with a heavy dose of digital signage. That signage not only showcases merchandise and branding but also shares “insider information” activity on social channels, in-store and online customer reviews, as well as data on how sales are tracking for the company.
“We want to use technology to delight the customer and we also want to create a really frictionless experience,” van der Zee said. “We also want to be really transparent with our customers, so every screen features a different story about what’s happening with our brand, including sharing real-time sales data and customer feedback.”
While the online business has been growing at approximately 30% annually, van der Zee said it has not been cannibalizing the brick-and-mortar business: “Globally our stores are still growing, and in fact sales in certain regions are growing as we build our digital presence.”
In addition to marrying the digital and in-store worlds, Suitsupply also is innovating around the last mile of the customer experience. The brand recently partnered with Uber Rush for timely delivery, or to provide customers with a free ride back to the store to pick up an item that may have been out of stock or needed tailoring on a tight turnaround.
Regardless of channel, Suitsupply is focused on providing a highly customized experience for each customer. The brand is utilizing Salesforce’s Clienteling solution and van der Zee said having a relevant conversation with each client at every interaction is woven into the company’s core.
“Whether you call into a store, our call center or are shopping one of our locations, your CRM history will be on the screen if you have shopped with us before,” he added. “Whoever you are talking and interacting with will have access to your previous purchases, preferences, measurements and key personal information. They are expected to pick up from the last conversation you have had with us, so we can provide a unique personalized experience.”
Suitsupply also is taking an omnichannel approach from a marketing and engagement standpoint. With the mantra “to be where our customers are,” the brand is utilizing social platforms like WhatsApp as well as video chat and email to communicate with customers.
The company is working to remove friction from the shopping experience at the checkout as well, innovating with new tools such as social payment.
Digital is central to Suitsupply’s disruptive approach, and the company has been quick to point out that it views digital not as a channel, but as a radical shift in behavior.
However, the digital experience is not the only path where Suitsupply is diverging from other brands. The company also is taking a unique approach to selecting locations for new stores. Rather than locating in high profile, high rent locations, the company has instead taken more of a destination approach with stores that are in unique spots “right around the corner” from high traffic areas. Van der zee noted: “This helps us to keep our rents lower and helps us stand out a bit with stores that feel more spacious