Ted Baker on why Covid-19 led to its greatest year for customer acquisition

Ted Baker doubled its investment in direct-to-consumer throughout the pandemic, according to chief customer officer Jennifer Roebuck, and as such has had one of its “greatest” years of new customer acquisition.

That investment included increasing the brand’s media presence by approximately 100% more than the business has ever invested before, which Ted Baker executed within the first two weeks of the pandemic, she added.

But on top of that, the brand has been actively experimenting with new technologies in its ambition to enable a frictionless virtual retail experience.

“We dialled up all the services that we could bring to bear to connect our customers closer to the brand,” Roebuck said during Advertising Week Europe today (10 May).

In the early stages, that included introducing a virtual stylist service for customers to engage with on its website, and an in-store appointment service during those periods in which non-essential retail was open.

We want to experiment, we want to learn. Otherwise you have no learning curve. And I’m a huge believer in a learning curve because that’s how you stay relevant as a business.

Jennifer Roebuck, Ted Baker

Ted Baker has also been testing a number of new technologies in recent months. In December, the brand partnered with Hero, a virtual shopping messaging app, to bring its in-store experience directly to customers online.

The technology, ‘Ask Ted Baker’, allows customers to instantly connect with an in-store expert at their nearest participating store with text and video calls via a chat service on its website.

Meanwhile, in January, the fashion retailer started using Instagram Checkout, allowing Instagram users to buy from Ted Baker with just a few clicks. From discovery to transaction, the shopping experience all takes place within the social media platform.

And most recently, the brand partnered with Bambuser, hosting a series of regular, live shopping events using retail store experts, in-house staff and influencer partnerships.

Ted Baker partnered with Hero to bring its in-store experience to customers online.

Innovation is “in the DNA” of Ted Baker, Roebuck said, noting that the retailer was one of the first to introduce an immersive in-store experience.
“We’ve built on that over the years and from a technology perspective, we’re incredibly receptive to experimentation,” she said.

“We want to experiment, we want to learn. Otherwise you have no learning curve. And I’m a huge believer in a learning curve because that’s how you stay relevant as a business.”

While acknowledging that not all of the various technologies Ted Baker has tried over the pandemic are scalable, Roebuck said her attitude towards innovation remains focused on three words: “frictionless, buying and discovery”.

“We stay true to those principles,” she says. “Everything that we build or identify that can sit within our ecosystem should be delivering those three things.

Ted Baker’s retail sales decreased by 42.2% over the first half of 2020 to £124m, however online sales grew by 41.8% to £74.2m to represent 59.8% of total retail sales.

At the time, CEO Rachel Osborne claimed all key metrics relating to ecommerce and digital had improved year on year, including new customer acquisition, total customers, online conversion rate and retention.

According to Roebuck, the business’s new customers can at least in part be attributed to its proactive attitude towards experimentation.

“I just think that mindset needs to be embedded in a business to take advantage of those opportunities,” she said.

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