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Using the Impersonal to Personalize the Shopping Experience

Tags: Brand News Strategy & Innovation Direct-to-Consumer

Using the Impersonal to Personalize the Shopping Experience

January 14, 2016

Using data to better understand consumer trends and preferences is helping VF Corporation better serve consumers directly through its owned retail and e-commerce channels while ultimately driving growth across its brands.

As outlined in VF’s 17 x 17 plan, VF expects its global direct-to-consumer (DTC) revenues to reach $4.4 billion in 2017, representing approximately 30% of VF’s total revenue. Absent of having a crystal ball to foresee the future, the company leverages data and learnings from across its portfolio of brands to act quickly based on consumer insights.

To accomplish this, the VF DTC team partners with VF’s brands to turbo charge their in-store retail and e-commerce efforts. Experimentation plays a crucial role in the company’s DTC strategy to ensure brands anticipate and meet consumers’ needs as they evolve.

“Direct-to-consumer is important not only because of its profit potential, but also because this is where we bring the brands to life through storytelling,” said Brendan Sullivan, VF’s Vice President, Direct-to-Consumer. “We strive to create the best possible experience for our consumers wherever they choose to shop - in our stores or online. 

At the company’s Digital Lab in Alameda, Calif., associates analyze data from VF brands’ e-commerce platform. That information helps VF build capabilities that connect the company more closely with consumers, all with the goal of making shoppers’ lives easier. The associates in the Digital Lab leverage these best practices and share them across VF’s e-commerce sites.

The use of consumer trends recently translated into a partnership between The North Face® and IBM’s famed Watson cognitive computing technology. The North Face® brand’s new retail site delivers personalized outerwear recommendations to shoppers by asking questions about factors such as location, temperature or gender. It then provides a recommendation that seeks to meet the shoppers specific usage and climate needs.

While e-commerce is an integral part of the DTC experience at VF, brick-and-mortar stores remain equally important, with more than 1,500 stores globally.

Before
7 For All Mankind® Lighting Test: Before
After
7 For All Mankind® Lighting Test: After

“Physical store locations remain a vital part of our strategy,” Sullivan said. “The key is to reimagine how we interact with customers in the store. It’s about constantly creating immersive experiences to engage with consumers in new and exciting ways. Our VF DTC and brand teams are laser-focused on creating innovative, engaging in-store experiences. ”

To that end, 7 For All Mankind® (7FAM) recently conducted a lighting test at its SoHo store in Manhattan. While the company tested lighting levels throughout the store, one main area of concentration was the dressing rooms. The VF and 7 For All Mankind® DTC teams added lighting options for different occasions, such as ‘work’ or ‘evening.’ 

“We wanted to create an emotional, memorable shopping experience to showcase the product in a more flattering way for consumers,” Sullivan said. “Given the success of this experiment, we’ve taken these learnings and shared them across our brands.”

The result? A 14 percent increase in traffic to the fitting room and a 21 percent increase in sales in the 7 For All Mankind® Soho store. This test and learn approach has been instrumental in VF’s DTC strategy and in staying at the forefront of digital and retail commerce.

More information about VF’s DTC platform is available here.