By Charlotte Pearce, Founder, Inkpact
At the start of the pandemic businesses all over the world were terrified at what this unknown virus was going to do not just to their personal lives but to the brands they worked so hard for. E-commerce has been growing at quite a rate for the past decade, but this has been exacerbated by COVID-19. The pandemic created a more level playing field between smaller brands and large corporate brands. It may have become easier to acquire customers, but harder to retain them. BrewDog, Sweaty Betty and John Lewis are three brands who are worth listening to when it comes to how you can grow, and look after your customers, during a pandemic.
Inkpact – CRM and Loyalty experts, hosted a panel discussion with John Lewis, BrewDog and Sweaty Betty. These brands adapted during the pandemic by keeping flexible, and as things continue to change, with stores reopening again, they still need to ensure they are delivering an amazing online customer experience. Brands have had to think about how they could fill gaps that had never needed to be online before.
With the help of Inkpact, John Lewis who has some of the most loyal in-store customers of any retailer worked hard during lockdown to create an emotional and authentic connection with their customers. This included a ‘Give a Little Love Christmas’ campaign with Inkpact, that helped spread the Christmas spirit and keep customers smiling and remaining loyal, with a simple handwritten note, thanking them for continuing to shop with them during the pandemic. Almost 80,000 John Lewis customers were sent beautiful handwritten Christmas cards and the results were impressive.
Thousands of customers took to social media to express their joy at receiving something so personal – John Lewis had never seen a reaction like it from any previous campaign. The main objective was to make customers feel personally valued, whilst also spreading the John Lewis Christmas magic in a year that hit all of us hard – which was definitely achieved!
John Lewis also saw huge commercial benefits – customers who received the campaign went on to shop 11% more frequently than those in the control group, and retention rates were also 4.5% higher as a result of the campaign.
Authenticity reigns supreme for e-commerce brands with an overarching push to make customers feel good. John Lewis said, “You get endorphins when you make someone else feel good, we should be doing this as brands…we’ve all got very into the technology and how we tie up all our data. But have we forgotten how to create a fun experience for customers to interact with?”
The brands which grew the most made their experience a lot more human than it had previously been. At Inkpact’s panel discussion, the idea of a human first mindset was discussed by all three brands and the conclusion was that brands need kindness, generosity, humour and connection – to feel significant in our relationships, whether they be with a person or with a brand.
Brands must have a flexible & omni-channel strategy which puts humans right at the centre of it in order to grow and survive in a post pandemic world. Changing messaging to make customers feels valued and appreciated is essential. The pandemic is not to be thought of as a money-making opportunity but a new way to treat business and it is the brands that have adapted to this that have grown the most.
Sweaty Betty’s Georgina Little spoke honestly about how the past year has been positive for their sales with the focus now being on retention. Brand partnerships, push notifications, loyalty schemes and differing benefits online vs in store are all contributing to growth. Real human connection should be high on the agenda for all e-commerce brands. It all comes down to not being scared to try new things and having the right humans behind your brand to drive everything.