Footwear and accessory retailer Aldo wants to take its business global, and it’s looking to an improved customer experience across online, mobile and in store in order to do so.
The Canadian company is planning an upcoming redesign of its online and mobile web stores that will focus on personalization, easier checkout and relevant style content. The goal, according to Serge Rose, Aldo Group’s director of customer applications, is to drive revenue with an improved cross-channel strategy. This way, Aldo can avoid compromising its brand with continuous discounts, something that has plagued fellow mall-based retail chains like Banana Republic and Aéropostale.
“By driving customers to the best styles for them at the right times, no matter where they shop, we’ve improved sales without getting bogged down by discounts and promotions,” said Rose.
Aldo first recognized it needed to overhaul its e-commerce site after it crashed on Black Friday in 2014. The company partnered with platform SAP Hybris in order to improve the site’s functionality as well as incorporate accurate inventory updates in stores, online and on mobile, and in 2015, it saw an average of 40,000 users on the site at once. Aldo Group, a privately held company, claims that the move increased conversions by 12 percent and year over year sales grew by 20 percent. The Group reported in 2014 that its annual revenue was $1.8 billion.
The company has 2,000 total stores in 95 countries, but its e-commerce and mobile sites only serve Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. With its relaunch, the company plans to reach the rest of the European countries where its stores are located, and then after that, Asia.
Rose said that while the company’s platform is the foundation of the expansion, its content strategy is what helps inform customers to make actual purchases.
“We listened to consumer insight and what they want, at any point, is more contextualization,” said Rose. “Where they can wear something, what to wear it with, what shoes to match to a type of outfit. Customers today want a brand to tailor to their needs. We’re focusing on flexibility.”
For traditional retailers facing competition from digitally native brands and fast fashion companies, flexibility is key.
“What brands should realize from the rise of [fast fashion] is not only that they can be flexible, but they have to become more nimble and more flexible,” said Whitney Fishman Zember, managing partner at MEC.
Right now, AldoShoes.com has a feature called “Style Finder” that asks shoppers three questions: Where are you going, how you define your personal style, and what color palettes you like. Then, it shows a product page with items that match those descriptions. Rose said that when the website relaunches, there will be more curated product pages like the Style Finder, and better personalized offerings and style content.
Aldo (the brand) also launched its first mobile app in July 2015 after the team found that 50 percent of its traffic was coming from mobile, and 90 percent of customers surveyed said they used their phones to shop or browse stores. Rose said that the upcoming relaunch was being thought of as a mobile-first product.
However, Aldo’s large store network is still anchoring the operation, and the 2,000 locations are getting the digital upgrade as well. With the Aldo mobile app, guests can scan shoes in store for more product information, style content and to request a size. In-store devices used by salespeople can show customers what’s available in store, in other locations, and online only, as well as ship items to customers’ homes or local store. The company plans to begin testing Uber Rush in available markets next year.
Rose said that stores are still the most important asset for the network, but that with mobile, “you can bridge the physical and digital experience.”