Retailers need to think beyond siloed technologies if they want to differentiate and build their businesses in today’s competitive retail environment. That was the message delivered by Geert Crooijmans, head of customer relationship management (CRM) for international department store chain Hudson's Bay, speaking at The Retail Bulletin’s HR Summit 2018.
“Hudson’s Bay launched in the Netherlands with almost no brand awareness - we really started from scratch. We had quite an ambition and we had a very hard deadline, opening 10 stores with over 110,000 square meters of selling area in six weeks,” Crooijmans told the London audience.
To cut through, the management team behind Hudson’s Bay Netherlands decided to focus on two main pillars: personalization and digitization.
“We want to bring something different to the retail environment. We want to be personal - not only in knowing our customers but also in our communications. And having a member loyalty program is very important to that. Also, we don’t want to send out leaflets or brochures to the market; we want to try to reach out to them in a digital way. We use our Hudson’s Bay app as our main digital channel to reach members, and we also communicate with employees through Speakap.”
The importance of integrations
Whereas most retailers now likely have several technologies and platforms under the bonnet - for people management, marketing automation, employee communications and more - the secret sauce for Hudson’s Bay was working with vendors who provided open APIs to bring each of those platforms together.
“We wanted to provide experience over discount. Our loyalty program, Club Hudson’s Bay, is very flexible and experience-focused; when you’ve earned your points, you can burn them with all sorts of experiences, both in store or outside the store, such as going to the theatre for example.”
This led Crooijmans and his team to asking how they could encourage program members to use the Hudson’s Bay app even more.
“We provide lots of app benefits, such as in store navigation via beacon technology. But we've also added the possibility to book a meeting in store, on the day and at the time when you choose, with a sales assistant within one of the departments.”
Essentially, the Hudson’s Bay external app integrates with the Bay Talk employee app (Bay Talk is Hudson's Bay's own branded version of Speakap) to join customers with employees and provide a personalized shopping experience.
"The customer books via their Hudson's Bay app then the sales employee gets a notification, via Speakap, that their customer has arrived in store and they can go and meet the customer. But our sales assistant also gets a push notification via Speakap if one of their favourite customers arrives in store, just as a customer will be told that their favourite sales assistant is in store and that a meeting is possible.”
Specific personal shoppers can even access CRM data via Speakap to provide their customers with a better service. Finally, Hudson's Bay have tapped into Speakap's chat functionality; members can send their sales assistants a message - for example, a photo of a favorite shirt that might need replacing - and the sales assistant can find the right piece for the customer to pick up or have delivered.
Transformation requires education
Answering audience questions about information security and sales assistants using mobile devices on the store floor, Crooijmans commented: "The security and relevancy elements of Speakap are key here, making sure only the right people have access to this information and even they can only access information about their own customer or store.
“One thing we’ve learnt is that we have to educate our employees in how to use Speakap on their mobile phones. If they’re stood in store, staring at their screens, it could annoy customers who don’t realise the sales assistant is looking for information about a product. We’re now training people to explain to a customer that they’re using Bay Talk to do something for them, not browsing their own personal social media!"