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Less than four years ago, Filene’s Basement filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to liquidate and close its stores due to a competitive retail environment and a growing popularity of online shopping. But last month, Filene’s Basement, which was always revered for its stellar brand loyalty, returned exclusively as an online-only business.
Mara Wedeck, CMO for FilenesBasement.com, talked to Loyalty360 about the company’s resurgence online.
What prompted FB’s comeback online?
Filene’s Basement has been such a beloved brand since its start all the way back in 1909. The history is so rich, and the brand has made a lasting impact on shoppers all over the country. By relaunching online, we are filling the void that has been left in the last few years, but doing so in a new and refreshed way! As online shopping and curated marketplaces become increasingly popular, it was important for us to show that, yes, we are a legendary brand, but we’re keeping up with the times.
Can you give us a high level overview of your customer philosophy and share how this perspective helps drive more effective engagement and, therefore, better marketing outcomes?
FilenesBasement.com is a curated online marketplace, customized to your personal taste, for discount designer and off price branded apparel, bridal, accessories, and home goods.
FilenesBasement.com offers a vast inventory of merchandise in a multitude of categories–yet instead of overwhelming customers with a myriad of choices, we’re striving for effective engagement with the creation of a smarter site that learns style preferences over time so that merchandise presented is specifically tailored to a shopper’s personal sense of style. This leads to shoppers being more interested in the items they’re seeing on the site, and more likely for their engagement to result in purchase.
Simplicity was one of the major themes at our Loyalty Expo in April in Orlando. How does FB simplify its relationships with customers that ultimately lead to brand loyalty?
Like other ecommerce sites, we provide product suggestions based on a customer’s search, purchase, and browsing habits. With our site, there’s a certain degree of thoughtful personalization that goes into these recommendations. Shoppers can proactively provide the site with information in multiple ways – one being by filling out the “Style Survey” detailing their individual sense of style.
Shoppers can also save items that they like in their own “My Basement” section. The site uses this information, along with data from customers’ shopping activity, to provide the most individualized recommandations possible. Our goal is to really build relationships with our shoppers by helping them easily find ways to express their own style–with the end result being that they continuously come back to our site.
Mobile technology is moving so fast these days. What has FB done in this regard to impact the Customer Experience and what has the feedback been?
The site applies platforms for ecommerce management and combines it with best-in-class personalization technology and valuable information customers enter into our Style Survey and Style Feed features. This impacts the customer experience greatly because the more time a customer spends on the site, the smarter the site’s recommendation engine will become and the merchandise offered to perfectly match one’s style.
While we just very recently launched, the feedback so far has been great! Customers have really taken a liking to the personalization tools and have been using them to find the best items to purchase or add to their own “Basement.”
Marketers are tasked to be more data-centric that ever before, yet the challenge of creating actionable insight from data is more challenging than before. What is your advice for marketers?
For us, collecting data and gauging user habits and time spent on the site is a great tool for our model that allows us to really learn what shoppers are looking for and respond accordingly to ensure a great personalized experience over time. Ensuring a holistic view of that data, not in a vacuum, but in the context of other behaviors and other insights, can ultimately glean some productive information for marketers.
In a move toward customer-centricity, if you could give one piece of advice to a brand to help them increase loyalty and engagement with their customers, what would it be?
Always keep listening. It’s important to remain aware of customer needs and trends. By making customers aware that they are so important to the success of the brand, customers will remain loyal and always feel confident they can come back to you and find just what they’re looking for.
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