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Although Abercrombie & Fitch is characterized as a work in progress, CEO Fran Horowitz believes that customer loyalty is at the heart of the company’s future.
“We leverage customer insights from our loyalty program and in-store research to engage with and respond to customers,” she said during the company’s recent first-quarter earnings call. “We have a fast-growing, highly engaging loyalty program. This full omnichannel offering has been successfully rolled out in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. across both brands. We are now planning to roll it out internationally, including local language app throughout the remainder of 2017.”
Horowitz noted that a new ranking of 10 publicly traded retailers that have omnichannel capabilities from Total Retail, in conjunction with Radial, Abercrombie & Fitch tied for fourth place overall.
“In a constantly evolving environment, we are confident we have invested in the right foundation and capabilities to allow us to stay ahead of the curve and to deliver the frictionless omnichannel experience that consumers demand,” Horowitz said. “Loyalty programs have been a particularly important customer trust point for us. The successful rollout across the Hollister and Abercrombie brands provide timely customer insights, drive customer engagement and a meaningfully higher average level of customer spend.”
Horowitz said it’s clear that there is an important relationship between Abercrombie’s physical stores and digital presence.
“The presence of the stores still acts as an important gateway to the brand, both as a physical store presence, but also as a local brand hub for online engagement,” she said. “And the direct interplay between the two, such as order-in-store, hop in and reserve in-store. Our experience has shown that we are able to create inviting spaces, often on smaller footprints that encourage brand engagement and product trial, and drive conversion.”
Store traffic headwinds and a promotional environment remain an industry challenge, Horowitz said, so Abercrombie remains focused on inspiring customers, innovating and developing leaders to strengthen the brand and adapt to the evolving landscape.
“We’ve previously spoken about meeting our customers whenever, wherever, and however they choose to engage with our brand,” she added. “That means omnichannel must truly be seamless and frictionless, allowing customers to start in one medium, migrate to another, and engage the brand in complete sales across platforms and locations. Understanding a fundamental shift in retail was underway, we were early to invest in building our direct-to-consumer infrastructure. It is paying off with DTC now accounting for 27 percent of sales, up from 24% in the prior year period. We have now rounded out our omnichannel capabilities. We have fully integrated the Abercrombie and the Abercrombie kKids websites. We’re optimized for mobile, including apps, payment and tracking across multiple social media platforms. We also tapped in an in-store reservation and online in-store return."
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