When consumers shifted to online-only shopping, City Beach was more prepared than a lot of other retailers. Not only had City Beach invested in e-commerce long before the pandemic struck, but they were observing real-time customer behavior and making wise inventory decisions to meet the demands of customers and still deliver business results.
Alex Timlin (SVP Verticals, Emarsys) spoke with Mike Cheng (Head of Digital, City Beach) who shares his take on e-commerce and changes in customer behavior prompted by COVID-19, including:
- How critical a retailer’s e-commerce strategy is for engaging customers
- Watching real-time trends to manage inventory in a profitable and customer-centric way
- Why focusing on an excellent customer experience leads to greater long-term engagement than focusing on the conversion rate
Learn more about how City Beach adapted rapidly to e-commerce shifts in pandemic consumer shopping.
Being Prepared for the Shift to Digital
“This time last year, you’d be following your standard sell markdown or your discount to kind of match what other people are doing. But it’s like actually, we don’t want to sell at a discount, and actually, we don’t have enough stock to sell at a discount. Know what I mean? So why not sell it full price?”
“I don’t understand why people wouldn’t see organically that the online channels are seeing great growth. Wouldn’t you want to use this time to capitalize on getting more eyeballs to your brand or getting more visits to your website? Like it kind of goes hand-in-hand.”
Balancing Online and Offline
“We were definitely lucky that our director had the foresight to go, ’Yeah, let’s allocate to online because stores are closed, and then we can keep the lights on.’ But yeah, through the online, the DC [distribution center] thing kept up 100 percent.”
“When you do get that customer online, that customer can actually be pushed back in stores through, you know, whether it’s like email or remarketing or pushing local inventories, like the options are there. But, yeah, it’s working out how to attribute a store sale for a digital kind of investment.”
Customer Experience Over Conversions
“You’re spending all your money on acquisition: Sure, the salesy ad, the marked-down products that get people to the website. But when they come to the website, you’re exposing them to content that they are going to buy full price.”
Nothing has changed the way consumers shop like the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has been especially tricky for retailers to adapt during this time.
Australia’s City Beach pivoted away from swimwear to comfy stay-at-home wear, and they did this by tracking customer behavior in the moment. They made practical decisions about inventory to keep their distribution center open, and they have leaned into delivering a high-quality customer experience over just trying to move each visitor toward a single purchase.