Just about two weeks ago, on June 15, The White Company opened the doors of its first New York City store, representing the first ever international expansion for the 22-year-old-plus British lifestyle-destination brand.
The first international flagship is located at 155 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron area and boasts a curated selection of lifestyle, homeware and fashion products in the 3,000-square-foot store. It is one of the U.K.’s fastest growing multi-channel retailers with over 1 million customers and more than 50 stores across the U.K.
Given that recent headlines are declaring brick-and-mortar retailers a dying breed, Retail Customer Experience reached out to The White Company to get insight on its retail customer experience strategy. Here’s our interview with Retail Director Steve Morris on the company’s “truly customer-first culture.”
Retail Customer Experience: How does The White Company define customer experience?
Steve Morris: At The White Company, we aim to deliver a customer service second to none; a seamless shopping experience across every channel. We want to give our customers outstanding quality products and wonderful service to make the most of every day. Customer experience is about the sensory aspects and experiential side of interacting with our brand; from the beautiful scents of our fragrance, to the soft touch of our cashmere, Egyptian cottons or sheepskins. We want to create a sense of calm and simplicity and enjoyment in every customer touch point and experience with that, whether it’s online, over the phone or in a store, and ultimately make our customers feel proud to shop with us. We have a mixture of brochure and iPads available in store to ensure the customer can experience the full product ranges and feel at ease with all the varied mediums in which she can shop and experience the brand.
RCE: What are some of the strategies you’ve put in place at locations?
Morris: Our stores are aimed at creating a total lifestyle concept to offer a truly inspirational shopping experience. We use scent air to ensure that every time you either pass the front of our store or step into the store you will experience our stunning scents and home fragrances. We pay huge attention to the layout and flow of our stores to ensure it’s easy and enjoyable to shop. Within this, careful consideration is taken to accommodate families shopping; wide areas for prams and buggies and our very own sofas and chairs to take a rest from shopping. Our fitting rooms are luxurious, which provides ample room to try on clothing in comfort. We use iPads in some of our stores which display lifestyle videography that brings alive specific product categories; helping the customer better visualize the context of how they can experience the brand.
RCE: How critical is the customer experience for a retailer today or is it still all about price and now delivery?
Morris:Customer experience is essential for retailers today and has become once again high priority within company strategies. CEXP is seen as a USP and differentiator for retailers and often what assists them in winning market share and surviving against strong competition. Price and placement is important, but with so much choice in the sector and the growth of digital, the benchmarks being set by the big players in terms of speed and ease of delivery, retailers are having to work hard not just to keep up, but if possible to get ahead. CEXP in the multi-channel world is creating huge requirements for companies to invest heavily in systems, technology and data. Personalization features high and is aspirational for companies; a single view of the consumer and truly knowing the customer is crucial. The delivery of an experience that meets their specific requirements and makes them feel special and truly engaged with the brand.
RCE: Can you talk about any particular CX in the new NYC location and what you’d like to do down the road?
Morris: We acknowledge this is a fairly new market for us and want customers to be delighted with their products and purchases and benefit from how much care and attention goes into every item we make. The White Company plans to launch with a no-quibble returns policy to allow customers to feel absolutely confident when purchasing our products and to have time to get to know our brand and generate that trust with our customers. Another offer will be a messenger delivery service for those customers who do not want to carry their shopping around Manhattan. We will continue to offer in-store clothing stylists and now extend this to offer bedroom consultations and one-on-ones also.
RCE: Why did you choose NYC for your first international location?
Morris: New York City was chosen as our first store as it is of course a key U.S. market. Taking insight from our existing U.S. customer database, it also has the highest proportion of current The White Company customers and huge potential for the future. The 155 as a location was chosen after an extensive search in Manhattan. Flatiron is a vibrant and ever-growing part of the city, with Broadway having its heritage in the home sector and Fifth famous for its clothing and fashion offer. This, together with the mix of fragrance brands in the vicinity, made it the perfect choice for us as a lifestyle brand to house our first U.S. store.
RCE: In all your years of running a successful retail operation, where do you ‘place’ customer experience in terms of strategy and focus?
Morris: It’s always been there from our launch 22 years ago, but after recent business growth, we have re-focused and recently made a strategic commitment to put this back at the heart of our business and to drive a truly customer-first culture. Convenience and the growth in the digital world are two huge factors that drive priorities within CEXP roadmaps. It’s about offering choice, convenience; allowing the customer to choose how they want to shop and interact.
Posted with permission from www.RetailCustomerExperience.com
Photo Credit: The White Co.
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