Technology with a Heart: The Relationship Between E-commerce + Empathy
At VF Corporation, we think about digital technology as having a heart and a soul. It’s not about selling another jacket or shoe; it’s about using empathy to connect with our consumers by inspiring and delighting them to creatively express themselves through our brands. By leveraging digital technology, we can speak to our consumers lifestyle, build relationships, bolster loyalty, and keep them coming back. Having a deep understanding of consumer insights, instincts and behaviors helps us to improve the user experience.
And we have seen that the pandemic has changed the consumer psyche and the kinds of digital experiences they seek. They are increasingly prioritizing brand relationships that enable them to be a part of a community, versus receiving a transaction-based reward offer.
We are fortunate to start with the fact that each of VF’s brands has a distinctive story, strong consumer engagement and a dedicated consumer following. With that as a foundation, our focus is on developing web and mobile-based experiences that are woven into the threads of our brands’ DNA. All of this starts with the deep understanding of our consumer and a clean and elegant user interface.
We want our consumers to feel delighted after going to our brands e-commerce site. By understanding what motivates our consumers, we can communicate with empathy through storytelling. For example, when you go to The North Face homepage, the first thing you read is: “The best gifts give more. More summits. More stories. More stoke. Because while it’s the gear that gets there, it’s the adventure that lasts a lifetime.” This storytelling demonstrates that it’s always been more than gear. These gifts share the adventure.
By putting ourselves in the shoes of the consumers, service teams and store associates, we better identify the goals and needs of each of these groups, and more effectively build the technology tools to fulfill them. For example, we’ve modernized our point-of-sale (POS) for in-store transactions. By having this modern POS system in place, it allows store associates, our largest group of brand ambassadors, to have more fun connecting with consumers through sustained engagement and less time in the stock room. Establishing this relationship allows us to have an empathetic two-way relationship through which our consumers connect with us and tell us about themselves, so we can engage with them around shared passions and not just a product.
Our Global Vans Family® loyalty program, which recently surpassed 18 million members, is a perfect example of connecting with our consumers and sharing information to deepen the relationship. While each of our brands has its own amazing story to tell and engages with its consumer in a different way, our loyalty programs allow them to tell their stories and build relationships using real time data to reach the right person with the right content at the right moment. These kinds of relationships are going to be increasingly important as the digital world evolves into an opt-in environment.
By truly understanding our consumer and establishing trust, authenticity and empathy, VF will strive to deliver a best-in-class experience. We look forward to VF’s ongoing innovation in this space as we continue to drive our business.