Patagonia has pioneered many things in its storied history; fleece clothing, synthetic base layers, recycled materials, organic cotton, and multi-channel marketing. Far before other companies conceptualized dedicating individual sales teams into distinct and separate business units, Patagonia was holistically optimizing for mail order, wholesale, and company-owned retail stores across the globe.
Having to deal with disparate and often conflicting sales channels (long before ecommerce) taught them how to serve the most important part of a sale in any channel: the shopper. It isn't about a single sale's contribution to a quarterly sales goal in one business unit. It's about building and maintaining a continuum of customer affinity that transcends the next sales meeting; the kind of loyalty that most companies can only dream of and very few achieve.
The first step in building these types of shopper bonds is anchored in understanding how shoppers interact with your brand. Unsurprisingly, Patagonia discovered after extensively surveying their customers, shoppers rarely shop exclusively in one channel. They may order something online and then visit a store for their next purchase. They may visit a local store and end up buying a color or size online that wasn't available at the store. Or, any other possible combination. Yet, the number of successful interactions a consumer has with a brand and its products underpins their affinity and their willingness to share their excitement with friends.
In a solution that puts customer loyalty ahead of single-business-unit sales goals, there really isn't such a thing as "channels." The channel is the shopper. And, increasing the number of positive interactions a brand has with a shopper is the path to growing customer affinity and increasing Customer Lifetime Value, a key metric that connects a company's accumulated goodwill to tangible financial results.
Once it is clear that Customer Lifetime Value is driven by affinity, and that affinity is created through multiple, positive brand and product engagements, it is only logical to try to understand how shoppers are actually engaging with brands and products (and where unnecessary breakage is occurring).
Consumer Lifetime Value is driven by affinity.
Online Marketplaces are fairly well understood from a marketing-perspective. Direct to Consumer is pretty mature. Wholesale and Brand Brick and Mortar are very mature. But until Covid-19 hit, online-to-offline / click-and-collect / curbside / same-day were pretty obscure concepts to most brands and even most consumers. Still, even years ago, Google was pointing to a future where online shopping drives offline purchasing the way it does for concerts, movies, dining, hotels, etc. Today, this is the most popular type of path to purchase. Virtually all shoppers do some to all of their product research online, but almost 90% of purchases still happen in nearby stores.
In April, in the height of the Covid lockdown, with ecommerce surging and virtually every store in the country closed, brick and mortar STILL accounted for 75% of retail sales. Shopping locally is consistently a clear winner with consumers. And, combining the fact that most shoppers do online research before making offline purchases, it can be argued that webrooming optimization is the most important tactic for creating, gaining, and maintaining brand affinity. (If you aren't already sure about this, visit an Apple store this weekend)
So, how is Patagonia addressing this?
The fist step Patagonia took with us (over a year ago) was to refine and shape how patagonia.com hands off online shoppers to stores. A simple list of local dealers and/or a map with pins just didn't give shoppers much information about where to go to make a successful purchase. And, it seemed ill-advised to send a patagonia.com acquired shopper to an physical street address without any information about what that store has in stock and whether they carry the type of merchandise the shopper wants to buy. Together, we re-envisioned this interaction.
The upgrade enables Patagonia to sort dealer types, it allows sorting by product groups, and enables shoppers to browse the Patagonia inventory of any dealer who wishes to share their stock with the Locally platform. Shoppers can even create full transactions with their local shop from right inside the store locator, ensuring that the shopper stays connected to Patagonia and Patagonia products all the way through the completed transaction, not just to the door of the store.
All online marketing tactics require a call-to-action (CTA) and a conversion option to be successful. ESPECIALLY Online-to-Offline.
Secondly, recognizing that a very high percentage of shoppers who visit patagonia.com will leave the site without making any purchase and will continue their research on other sites or in nearby stores, it made sense to provide nearby product-level availability collected from local stores directly on product pages. Showing a customer a rain jacket they can't get before the upcoming rainy weekend but no information about how to continue the shopping journey through to a successful purchase squanders a chance to reinforce brand affinity. And, increases the likelihood of the worst possible outcome; the shopper will just end up buying a competitor's product.
To solve for this situation, Locally collects real-time inventory data from thousands of Patagonia wholesale dealers. We provide brand clients like Patagonia with a suite of tools to integrate that inventory into shopper-facing tools such as those on patagonia.com. Stores can enable transactions (reserve, click and collect, in-store pickup, same day delivery) that operate from inside of those tools (along with many more) and which ensure the best-possible online-to-offline shopping experience.
Together, Patagonia and Locally optimize the shoppers journey in the most important channel and ensure that brand and product affinity are maintained and expanded.
"Topline, we feel like Locally provides best in class tools as well as service that sits behind them. Quality of dealer locator tool and multiple ranges of functionality, simplified inventory feed technology that less tech savvy retailers can utilize to display their inventory on their own site or your company site, curbside and same day delivery facilitation and much more.
We’d probably pick Locally for the tech function, but the people are the secret sauce. Capable, quick to lend a hand and they are always pushing into and executing new ideas."
Walt Bailey, Patagonia