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IMRG Online Retailer Interview: Quiz

A Q&A with Jawad Farooq, eCommerce Trading Manager, Quiz

In this retailer Q&A, we spoke to Jawad about fulfilment, returns, and the customer journey.

Tell us about Quiz

We’re predominantly a fast fashion womenswear retailer, primarily focused on occasion wear, eveningwear, and casual wear. And these we deliver at an affordable price. The purpose of us moving in this kind of area is to deliver a unique proposition to fashion-forward female customer who wants to look glamourous and stand out from the crowd. They want to look different, and our products have an edge.

And we’re focused on occasion wear, our biggest collection, which is then complemented by footwear and accessories, including bags and jewellery. So really the range is catering for customers who want to go out, dress to impress, go out with friends, or even things like the proms or weddings, or other seasonal or annual occasions.

Everything that we work on is designed for a woman to look beautiful, glamourous, and to feel fabulous, at a value-for-money price point.

How does being a multichannel retailer inform your approach to the customer journey?

Our approach at the moment as a brand, having been a multichannel retailer for over a decade now, typically involves our store business, our concession business, and our own site, and over the last year we’ve launched a Spanish site, and a US site as well. There are a few other territories we’re looking at in the coming year, which I’m not able to give any details on at the moment, but there will be a couple more.

One other key part of our multichannel journey is working with partner sites.  Currently our partner sites are House of Fraser, Dorothy Perkins, Next, Debenhams, and Zalando. So focusing on stores, concessions, online, and partner sites, it’s important that our customer has that consistent multichannel experience.

One thing that we try to do with all the partners is to bring it into one key journey, and social media is a key part of driving that consistent multichannel experience across all the touchpoints. For example, Instagram’s launch of direct shopping from the feed offers an insight into the customer.

Encompassing the overall multichannel journey, there are key delivery propositions as well, which have been the staple products out there for many a retailer, such as the buy and collect strategy, which has been brilliant for us and has been growing year-on-year, as we increase our presence as a brand, customers have become more familiar with that journey.

We are looking at the experience through other opportunities as well. For example, we work with CollectPlus and Doddle, and we’re looking at the delivery to store element in the coming year. We want to serve the customers where they want the parcels to be delivered, and we want to provide a seamless journey for them.

How do you minimise the impact of returns?

They key thing for us is listening to the customer – understanding the reason for the return. Typically on our web orders we provide ten reason codes for a customer to let us know what their reasons were for a return. And of course in store we have the advantage of speaking to our customer. And we can actually ask what the reason was for a return.

Once we can start getting an idea of particularly high return items, that information is fed back to our buying teams who then use that information for the next product lines that they’re going to be delivering into the business.

We are also in an age – a with ecommerce being such an easy and convenient way of shopping –  that’s a difficult time for retailers for returns. You want to make an online experience as close as possible to the store journey. A customer can go into a store, try something on, and then decide that they wish to purchase the item or they don’t.

Online is always difficult. You have to part with that stock, and if the customer doesn’t like it, they will obviously want to return it. So we believe in making the returns process easy for the customer. Give them the opportunity to try the item on, and use the living room as their fitting room, and if it works for them great, but if not they can return it and we’ll learn lessons from the reason as to why it wasn’t for them.

That’s also where personalisation becomes important – understanding the customer journey better. So when ‘customer A’ comes on to site, can we give her the product that she’s looking for in the sizes that she’s looking for, and ultimately reduce the return rate. These are the areas we’re looking at in a bit more detail now, and we want to understand that journey better.

It sounds like you’re also looking at returns as a driver of loyalty.

Absolutely. We know that customers in store have quite an easy experience. Online we have to try and emulate that as much as possible.

We’ve recently implemented a 7pm order cut-off for next day delivery. The market is moving later and later for order cut-offs. We’re also on a journey, using delivery and fulfilment, for the customer to allow them to make an informed purchase, especially given the nature of the products that we do, with occasion wear, when the customer might want something for tomorrow night, it’s important for us to be able to meet that demand and expectation.

Do you currently offer a wide range of fulfilment options?

We do. We don’t believe in using absolutely every single delivery option out there. A) it’s not commercially viable, and B) there’s too much confusion for the customer as well. What we do believe in is offering a handful of options for the customer to have the product delivered to them in a way that’s convenient.

We want to look for the best-in-breed, and partners, carriers, or solutions that are going to be pioneers within their respective industries. CollectPlus was one of very first to venture into that kind of area. We work with partners who have locker solutions, and Doddle are another pioneer, with their own dedicated stores.

We are looking for partners with products that we feel the customer is looking for, based on their feedback to us, and therefore putting that proposition in front of them.

We do still find that home delivery is still the preferred option. We do see the reports that click and collect is gaining momentum, but I think that at the end of the day getting a parcel delivered to home, if they’re going to be home, is more convenient for the customer than having to travel to pick up a parcel.

But this is where the challenges are. I think carriers need to do much more to bring their offering along with that journey. We do see that some are offering evening and late-night deliveries, but I feel that the carrier industry is still not quite there yet. We believe that this 9-5 setup that many carriers still continue to operate is old-fashioned.

And do your customers seem to prioritise free delivery, convenient delivery, or quick delivery?

We certainly have seen a shift, with customers looking more for speed, but they still want the free element. Speed has definitely become more popular in recent years. Certainly the next-day propositions have picked up over the years. And we’re looking at implementing nominated day delivery.

Because we’re fast fashion, our products have a short window, and given the nature of the product, the customer’s not buying something to wear in the next few months, they’re buying something to wear at the next weekend or the next evening, and because of the affordable price, customers are realising that they can buy the product later, close to the event, and still get it in time.

How close are you to achieving a single view of customer?

We have elements of information, but we’re not able to fully follow a customer through the journey, but we have got silos of information that give us an idea of the customer experience. We’ve actually got something in development at the moment, which should give us a better understanding of the customer’s in store and online experience.

One thing we’re doing at the moment is a rollout of iPads across our store estate, and a number of our flagship locations have also now started to operate kiosks. So that’s the start of the journey for us, and since implementing that we have started to get really great insights, which will allow us to keep improving.

We’re also looking at digital displays to communicate key information to our customers, and ultimately drive them to platforms like social networks that already facilitate this type of communication and experience online and in store.

 

Comment from Mike Richmond, Chief Customer Officer, Doddle:

'Quiz is a great example of a retailer that has absolutely embraced the multichannel experience. They use delivery & returns propositions to drive loyalty, allowing the customer to pick the option that is most convenient to them. Importantly, they’re also an agile team willing to test things and move fast. We went live with Quiz about 3 weeks after meeting the team, which is testament to their focus on continuing to innovate (and a lot of hard work!). Quiz are definitely a business to watch – they’ve got a great team and we think they’re well positioned to continue to surprise and delight customers as they continue to grow their online sales.'

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