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A balancing act: Testing technologies and connecting with consumers

Tags: Brand News Direct-to-Consumer

A balancing act: Testing technologies and connecting with consumers

April 7, 2016

Despite discussion of digital, brick and mortar remains an important avenue for connection

Speculation about the relevancy of the brick and mortar retail experience has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, brick and mortar stores continue to deliver the bulk of today’s total industry retail sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. The same is true at VF Corporation brands. Today, approximately 85 percent of VF’s Direct-to-Consumer business is through brick and mortar stores.

“At VF, we are focused on growing our business at retail,” said Todd Starcevich, Vice President of Direct-to-Consumer, Americas. “We are doing this by focusing on building our retail technology foundation while simultaneously experimenting and testing new technologies and experiences in-store.”

Consumer insights are woven into every aspect of VF’s business, particularly its retail operations. To gain that understanding and also ensure that stores have the right balance of technology requires experimentation and a testing period followed by a time to refine the approach based on key learnings.

As part of a testing period, retail teams observe how consumers engage differently with various technology and process adjustments.  Ultimately, the goal is to fully understand the right mix of people, processes, and technology to enhance a consumer’s experience with VF brands.

In one such example of experimentation, Timberland® recently started deploying tablets to customers at its Herald Square store in New York City. This allowed customers to digitally and socially engage with every product in the store without being required to sign-up, download an app or initiate registration.

As part of its Connected Store, which officially debuted at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show in January, shoppers receive a guided Timberland experience with rich digital product information, styling options and recommendations as they build their online collection of Timberland footwear, apparel and accessories. When finished, shoppers can choose to opt-in via email to receive personalized content related to their store visit.

Timberland’s Connected Store also includes interactive “tap walls” featuring an assortment of exclusive merchandise. Nimbus, CloudTags’ in-store recommendation engine, allows customers to shop from an extended range of styles, colors and sizing, based on their location and interests, that otherwise would only be available through timberland.com. Store associates will be at-the-ready to help with product and sizing, or shoppers can choose to navigate themselves.

Meanwhile, The North Face® and 7 For All Mankind® brands recently partnered with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Jaunt on innovative virtual reality experiences.

Shoppers at select The North Face stores could experience remote hiking or base jumping in Yosemite National Park or Moab, Utah, without ever leaving the store.

The North Face rolled out a pair of films in 360 degrees 3D, both in line with the brand’s mission to inspire a global movement of outdoor exploration. In one film, viewers are transported to Moab, Utah, and Yosemite National Park alongside The North Face athletes Cedar Wright and Sam Elias, while a second experience offers viewers a front-row seat into Nepal, allowing them to experience the country’s landmarks and mountains.

7 For All Mankind also partnered with Jaunt to capture Visions of California, which was filmed in Paris against the backdrop of a French chateau using its proprietary 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D cameras and advanced 3D sound-field microphones. To amplify the content, ELLE, the first fashion brand to collaborate with Jaunt, teamed up with 7 For All Mankind to bring Visions of California to life and will promote the content across their digital platforms. 

Both The North Face’s and 7 For All Mankind’s virtual experiences are available via apps.

VF’s Direct-to-Consumer business is one of VF’s powerful business platforms. Accounting for approximately 30 percent of VF’s overall revenue, the Direct-to-Consumer business includes 1,520 owned retail stores and e-commerce sites.

For more information on VF’s Direct-to-Consumer business, please visit http://www.vfc.com/powerful-platforms/direct-to-consumer.