Michele Levy, CEO of Ilhabela Holdings, the parent company and exclusive distributor of Melissa Shoes in the U.S., sought to heighten the in-store customer experience.

By partnering with social experiential technology company M-ND, Melissa Shoes recently launched a new in-store interactive customer experience at its Orlando and Miami locations. With the installation of the M-ND Matter displays, Melissa Shoes brings together the in-store experience and social engagement, allowing shoppers to explore and share seasonal look-books, upload and print branded social media photos, and access special deals, giveaways, and loyalty rewards. In return, Melissa Shoes will gain access to actionable data about in-store customers’ preferences, social media influence, and behavior. 

What’s more, Melissa Shoes is using M-ND Matter displays to convert its already high foot traffic into a surge of social media activity, increased sales, and previously unattainable consumer insights. Central to the program are M-ND’s free-standing interactive displays, which showcase Melissa Shoes’ digital look-books, facilitate wide social sharing, and print tangible photo memorabilia and discount coupons. 

Levy talked to Loyalty360 about these important enhancements to the in-store customer experience at Melissa
Shoes.

“Innovation has always been a core pillar of the Melissa Shoes brand,” Levy explained. “Since 1979, when the company was founded, we have always seen innovation as a core value whether we were working with recycled plastics as our primary material, our producing collaborations with designers, architects, and artists. Melissa established collaborations before the word was even established in the fashion industry. In today’s world, where the retail environment has already changed so significantly, innovation is more important than ever. It used to be that if you built a store, customers would come. Now if you build, nothing will happen. You have to get them into the store somehow.”

Before the partnership with M-ND, customer engagement at Melissa Shoes would end at the store level.

“Our goal for using M-ND’s technology was to continue the conversation–to use an innovative technology to continue to engage and talk with the customer after she’s left the store so that she continues to think of us, to learn about us, and to teach us about herself so we can improve,” Levy said. “Our end goal is to get 100 percent engagement so that everyone who comes into the stores enjoys the M-ND product to its fullest by sharing their purchases, favorite looks, experiences, etc. with their friends. We want to become a part of customers’ everyday lives. This is difficult to quantify in numbers, but my overall hope is to increase social engagement with customers through growth in numbers of followers on social media platforms, and increased engagement in the form of likes and comments. I don’t have specific numbers in mind yet, but what we’re seeing so far has been significant.”

What’s more, Melissa Shoes wants to learn about its customers as individuals.

“I want to learn what really makes her tick and identify what excites her (which is likely what she is posting about) so that we can determine what we are doing right and what we can do better,” Levy said. “Every customer is different and needs to be engaged in their own, unique way.”

Social media can help magnify the customer experience at Melissa Shoes.

“The one thing that the Internet and e-commerce-driven retail doesn’t allow you to do is to have the warm, personal relationships with customers that stem from an in-store experience,” Levy said. “Seventy-eight percent of customers who have a positive interaction with a sales associate end up making a purchase. Especially for our products which have so many different facets– feel, smell, etc.–the in-store experience is critical for really getting a taste for the brand. Brick-and-mortar stores are no longer a stand-alone retail strategy, but part of an overall strategy and we hope to use M-ND to magnify those personal, in-store experience across our social media platforms.”

A big part of the Melissa brand is an element of fun.

“We couldn’t have associates standing around the store saying, ‘Oh can you take a picture with our shoes, here’s the hashtag and a keychain for your trouble,’’’ Levy said. “The M-ND devices allow us to create a fun experience for the customer that simultaneously allows us to grow our customer base and engage her in e-commerce. We cross-promote our social and e-commerce platforms, so when she or he is on our social media platforms because of M-ND, we can easily guide the customer to our e-commerce platforms.”

Additionally, the M-ND displays showcase the entire Melissa Shoes collection.

“I can’t stage a fashion show in every location every five minutes, but I can provide customers with real-time updates to the products and can choose which assets to showcase,” Levy explained. “The customer can interact with what she loves and then when she is on social media and our online store, she is much more likely to explore and purchase styles she saw but didn’t try in-store. By engaging her in social media and having her following and liking us, we are getting a level of engagement with the brand that we didn’t have before, and can offer her a tailored experience we couldn’t provide before M-ND.”

Melissa Shoes has eight stores in the Continental U.S. and two more, one in the Caribbean and one in the Dominican Republic.

“I foresee expanding this initiative to all stores due to the results we are already seeing since the April launch,” Levy added. “We are getting much better levels of engagement–customers are liking us more, coming back to the stores, bringing their friends, and showing us what they like. M-ND has provided an innovative way to introduce technology that is not invasive into our stores but is participatory and pays homage to the fun, innovative values that are central to the Melissa brand. At Melissa, we love tech and use tech all the time, but we did not want a technology that is like a robot. It has to add to the experience, make it fun, and interesting and make the customer want to spend more time in the store. We looked at several alternatives to M-ND, but couldn’t find anything that would bring that fun element, that would bring joy into the stores and to the customers. Before, if we did have any post-store engagement, it would be through promotional emails where we were talking to her, but she wasn’t talking to us. We want her to be a part of our family, to bring her home, and include us in her conversation with friends and with our customer base.”

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