With the arrival of budget behemoths such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo into Australia you’d think life would be increasingly tough for local denim retailer Jeanswest. But not so says the brand’s global CRM and digital manager, Sarah Hayden, who argues in the local retail space customers don’t necessarily want things to be “big”.
Hayden told B&T that for all this talk of online and the threat posed by the big international chains, many customers still wanted the smaller store experience and a more personal and friendly experience that comes with it.
“Also, the upside of international competition is the door it opens for Australian businesses to drive into the international markets – the scale of opportunity in the US, UK, let alone Asia present huge opportunity for growth,” Hayden said.
Traditionally a ‘bricks and mortar’ chain, Jeanswest has ditched traditional media and TVCs and is far more focused on in-store and below the line marketing.
Hayden said despite the perception that it is a youth brand she admits the average customer is aged 36 and four out of every five are female.
And is the perception that Jeanswest primarily does denim restrictive? “Yes, denim is our core proposition but rather than being restrictive it provides a real point of differentiation and strength. Without the denim focus it could be quite easy to look the same as other fast-fashion retailers,” she said.
To survive in the retail space it’s a simple equation – you simply have to have good product and good service. Hayden said: “Customers are just savvier these days and have higher expectations on product, quality, experience and delivery.”
Hayden said the ecommerce side of the business is increasingly important as Jeanswest expands internationally and says customers who shop online typically make for good in-store customers too.
“We very quickly looked at customers shopping habits and found that those shopping online, more often than not, spent more in-store; it quickly eliminated any threat or competition between the channels,” Hayden said.
Hayden says Jeanswest customers are “socially media active, but not prolifically so” and it’s data that’s transforming how and what the retailer communicates back to customers.
“The Jeanswest Reward program was relaunched in 2009, open to all customers to join, and offered instant discount rewards for members when they shop,” Hayden said.
“Not only does this structure simply and easily recognise and reward members for shopping with us, it means we know what they’re buying and how often so we can tailor future shopping experiences, our communications and offers. Add to this the plethora of social and other digital insight and Jeanswest is attempting to bring together those key insights that will continue to improve the customer experience, making it more and more relevant and personalised.”