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How AllSaints’ New App is Engaging its Most Loyal Customers to the Tune of 5X Higher  Conversion

AllSaints' new app is already a hit with more in store.
Image courtesy AllSaints

Brand apps are a tough needle to thread. They offer the chance to deliver a better mobile experience, more deeply engage with customers and a touch point through which to gather additional intel on consumers’ behavior and preferences. On the other hand, it’s hard to get someone to download your app (as opposed to simply typing in your URL), and even if they do download, it’s not a sure thing that they’ll actually use it: the average smartphone has more than 80 apps downloaded, but the average person only uses nine of those apps every day and around 30 every month.

James Reid, Chief Innovation Officer, AllSaints
James Reid, Chief Innovation Officer, AllSaints

Those are tough odds for any one app to face, but it didn’t intimidate British fashion brand AllSaints or its Chief Innovation Officer James Reid. The company launched its new app in partnership with NewStore in March 2023, in large part to build a deeper connection with its most loyal customers — of which there are many.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, AllSaints operates over 200 stores across 27 countries. While the brand was founded and is headquartered in Britain, the North American market has become its biggest. But perhaps the brand’s biggest asset is its nearly universal appeal, with customers ranging from “very young to not,” as Reid put it, and a 50-50 split between menswear and womenswear shoppers.

“The opportunity with that is everybody could be a customer, and everybody is somebody we want to communicate with; the challenge of that is everyone could be a customer, and everybody is somebody we want to communicate with,” said Reid. “We haven’t got a niche we’re aiming at, it’s very inclusive.”

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The reason for this broad appeal is the brand’s assortment of wardrobe staples with “a bit of an edge,” explained Reid in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As a result, it’s a brand that gets under your skin,” he explained. “The affinity people build up is really quite strong. We find a lot of people who bought their first T-shirt in their teens, and even as they’ve gone through different phases in their life over the last 30 years, they’ve stayed with the brand with slightly different use cases.”

That’s a customer base worth nurturing, and that’s exactly what the AllSaints app is meant to do. Here’s how:

  • The launch of the new app followed on an ecommerce replatform and inventory management revamp that created the necessary underpinnings for its success;
  • Because of the higher barrier to entry, AllSaints now views the app almost as a filtering mechanism to identify its most loyal and engaged customers;
  • As the app continues to evolve, Reid’s goal is to use it to find ways to “reward engagement with the brand through more engagement with brand” via things like exclusive access and behind-the-scenes knowledge; and
  • The final piece of the puzzle will put be in place this June when the NewStore POS rolls out across AllSaints’ stores enabling a true omnichannel shopping and purchasing experience.

An Integrated App Experience with the Potential for Evolution

AllSaints had an app before, but “I would politely describe it as a little basic,” said Reid diplomatically. The previous app was really more of a trial run, built in-house and “launched and then left,” with significant overhead required to manage it.

In October 2021 the company underwent a massive replatforming, moving from a bespoke in-house ecommerce system to Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “As part of that exercise and because of the audience the brand has, we decided that there was a significant opportunity for an app, but it needed to be multi-platform, because our old one wasn’t,” said Reid. “And it needed to tie in very, very tightly with our new ecom platform so that you didn’t have the two things sat side by side with no interrelation between them.”

AllSaints realized it didn’t have the in-house resources to build such an app, so after looking at a number of solutions the company landed on NewStore, because it was “by far the best combination of an off-the-shelf platform that will give you most of what you want, but also the ability to develop onwards with that,” said Reid.

App Download = Most Loyal Customers

The rest, as they say, is history. The app launched in March 2023 in the UK and U.S., with significant geographic expansion planned for this year, and the results are “either at our expectations or slightly exceeding it,” said Reid. As of the end of January 2024 — less than a year after launch — installs were nearing 150,000, and engagement was holding steady. Most impressive, though, is that app conversion rates are 5X higher than among the brand’s mobile web users.

If somebody’s going to go to the effort of downloading an app, you’re almost identifying who your most loyal customers [are] through, for lack of a better term, natural selection,” said Reid. “It gives you that identification almost by default, and that’s partly why we see those massively different conversion rates, because the users are that [incredibly loyal] subset of the customer base. It helps us know who our engaged customers are and give them a better service.”

App Engagement Reward: A Peek Inside the ‘Dollhouse’

Reid is clear that the form the app is in today is “a good starting point, but not the final answer.” And he has big plans to “throw more at it in terms of more capabilities and greater engagement” now that it’s established.

“Personally, I can’t stand the word loyalty, it feels like sort of Walmart points, which for us is not [the right approach],” said Reid. “I don’t know exactly what the answer is yet, but we have an aspiration to reward engagement with the brand with further engagement with the brand. Imagine a hypothetical scenario where you’ve got a virtual backstage of your runway show twice a year for an invited audience of online viewers, those people most engaged with the brand. If I can find a way of measuring how often they’re engaging in our Instagram posts, picking up on Twitter feeds, buying things, arriving in-store and reviewing products online — I’d rather use that ‘basket of engagement’ than, ‘You bought three things this year and spent £5,000, therefore you get £20 off.’ That just feels too transactional; it’s not what we’re trying to do.

“Our CEO has a brilliant way of looking at it, which I steal shamelessly from him on a regular basis — remember the old-style dollhouses where you could take the front off? Imagine the organization is like that and we can take the front off, and the customer can see inside,” added Reid. “At our headquarters in London we have an in-house atelier who makes garments — maybe we can make that visible. Or we have our own on-site photo studios for product images, but perhaps we can have some engagement within that. There are a couple of runway shows a year and numerous other events, maybe we can bring more people into that community. It adds massive value for us, absolutely, but it also adds value for the customer and makes it less transactional.”

The Final Leg of the Stool — POS

All this digital transformation and evolution is great, but it’s not the whole picture. “We’re a big online retailer, it’s a big channel for us, but we’re also a big believer in brick-and-mortar retail as well,” said Reid. “There is no substitute for walking into a store and feeling a garment.”

Which is why in June, AllSaints also will roll out NewStore’s mobile POS system across its store fleet. “That will bring the third leg of the stool together in terms of the direct-to-consumer business, because we’ll have tight integration between the app and the website, but also tight integration between the app and the store,” said Reid.

“Imagine a scenario where you put a wish list together in the app and then walk into a store,” he said. “We can pull up that wish list and tell you immediately whether we’ve got the sizes you’re looking for. And we can then go a step further and drop that into the runner app, which will send an instruction to the person in the stockroom to go and pull those sizes if they’re not on the shop floor and put them into the right changing room. It’s very service driven, and it starts to blur the lines with the consumer using the app, and our store staff using a similar app that’s interrelated and enabling communication between the two.”

But even that isn’t the end of Reid’s ambitious plan; he is, after all, the Chief Innovation Officer. As he explained, the company already enables an “endless aisle” in-store with the ability to order products online that aren’t in stock, but “I want to bring that together with the app so that the consumer can put together their wish list, we’ll be able to pull it up and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got all of those, but I don’t have that size in this store. If you want, I can have it delivered to your house next day.’ And then in one transaction, one payment, it drops straight into our ecommerce order management system. That’s the grail I’ve been chasing for 10 years in this industry. I cannot wait to see it in place this year. From a service point of view it’s a game-changer.”

Improved Inventory Visibility Critical to AllSaints’ Omnichannel Success

Before the app, before the replatform, there was something else even more foundational that had to happen to enable that vision though — a down-to-the-studs revamp of the company’s inventory management systems, to bring everything into “a single pool that is visible across multiple channels concurrently,” noted Reid. That effort began prior to the pandemic and has served as the structural underpinning of all the other initiatives that followed.  

“We technologists are always very good at looking at the shiny thing at the front end,” said Reid. “You need the right presentation, you need the right engagement from a customer point of view, but what sits behind it has got to be really efficient and really accurate as well. The last thing you want is the customer looking on the app and seeing it’s in stock in a particular store, driving to the store and then it’s not there. And while it’s brilliant having access to everything and visibility of everything, that needs to be done in a way that maintains profitability. Because we don’t want a customer placing an order and receiving six parcels; we want to get as close to one as we can. There’s a lot of balance and a lot of nuance to it, but it’s really starting to come together. Come back and ask me again in six months, and I bet I’ll be sitting here with a big smug grin on my face.”

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