After conquering women’s fashion for over 48 years in Australia, iconic family-owned retailer Cue is embracing cutting-edge technology designed to enhance the shopping experience for its customers.
As the largest local manufacturer of women’s fashion in Australia, Cue’s innovative, youthful and forward designs are the reason why the brand has been voted as ‘Best Australian Fashion Brand’ in the Prix de marie claire awards 4 out of 5 times.
Along with its premium and modern designs that keep Cue at the forefront of fashion in Australia, is the innovative and technological solutions that have been introduced to its loyal customer base.
In November 2016, Cue introduced the Infinity omnichannel solution, a new technology designed to improve the shopping experience for both the customer and retail team.
When Cue added Click & Collect to its omnichannel repertoire, its introduction followed an extensive review of solutions already available in the marketplace. In this instance, it wasn’t the preference to be first to market with the Click & Collect solution, says Shane Lenton, Cue Chief Information Officer.
“We took the approach of being a fast follower for Click & Collect to ensure we delivered a comprehensive solution for both our customers and retail team.”
The needs of Cue were specific, with Infinity delivering a core retail management system, providing a centralised hub for all channels. The solution offers Cue flexibility to expand and cater for change, while seamlessly integrating online and offline experiences for customers.
To manage split orders through the online store, Cue needed to offer a single checkout option to the customer, regardless of how they shop.
With many solutions currently in the market, the customer has to checkout for each of the three different fulfilment channels. However, with Infinity, just a single checkout is required.
“A customer shopping on the website may want three items,” explains Shane. “Item one is to be delivered the same day. Item two is available for collection at the customer’s local Cue store. And item three is unavailable at the customers local store, but is available within the store network so can be delivered to any store location for the customer to collect.”
Real time inventory management
Another key component of the Infinity solution is the ability to provide real time inventory management across the entire business, both online and instore.
“The real time stock visibility allows us to facilitate same day fulfilment from store utilising real time inventory without any buffers,” says Shane. “When researching Click & Collect solutions at the outset, we found instances where retailers didn’t have a great view of their inventory in real-time at store level. This would result in their Click & Collect orders being filled from a warehouse and sent to each store, increasing cost and time. With Infinity, depending on whether the customer wants to collect from their preferred store or have the items delivered, we can provide a seamless experience for the customer. In most cases, for orders to be collected from a store, the customers are notified within half an hour that their purchase is ready for collection.”
“We’ve changed the way our customers shop,” says Shane. “When our customers visit our website, their country and local store is automatically detected providing a localised shopping experience. The product details page shows the customer stock availability in real time at their local store. While they can override this and choose to shop broader than their local store, often it’s very much a one-to-one relationship between the store and the products the customer is viewing on the website.”
Real time inventory management not only benefits Cue customers, but also has a substantial advantage for its team.
“Presenting real time information to the customer allows them to make an informed decision on how they want to make their purchase, and how they want to receive their items,” says Shane.
Being able to manage the Click & Collect process at both head office and store level was another key differentiator for the Cue team.
“Our research told us that there were two very important factors for the success of Click & Collect. Firstly, we were aware of the benefits of getting stores to really embrace the opportunity for the sale. Secondly, the ability to manage the end to end process effectively by providing the visibility and tools to monitor and manage the process at Head Office, ensuring the best outcome for the customer, was really important to us,” says Shane.
With the Infinity Click & Collect Dashboard, a team member at Head Office overseas the customer order. At each step of the process, service level agreements (SLAs) are set, with onscreen, email and SMS alerts for issues and exceptions.
When an order is received via Click & Collect, it must be acknowledged by the store within a designated time period. The order is then picked, again within a set amount of time, and then marked as packed and ready for collection, with the customer receiving notification their order is ready for collection. The system is fully automated, with Head Office notified of any breaches of the SLAs set for each step of the way through the Dashboard.
To ensure the customer receives a seamless experience, in the event an item cannot be filled by the store, the order bounces back to Head Office, where the team member is able to see the exception on the Dashboard.
Head Office reaches out to the customer to give them the options available for their order, then is able to reassign the order to another store for collection or delivery (depending on the customer’s preference) via the Dashboard.
“We’ve automated the entire process and put the controls and alerts in place to ensure ultimately the best outcome for the customer,” explains Shane. “It also gives the stores a clear understanding of what is required of them, and in what period of time. There are no unknowns or ‘I’ll get to it when I can’; it’s a very tight process.”
“Essentially we are very customer focused and we can do all of this within the dashboard itself; we are not having to go to different systems. It’s about having tight processes and being efficient, working with the customer to make sure we provide the best outcome for them.”
Cue also introduced a function to acknowledge the source of a sale.
“The store and the individual filling the order is rewarded with the sale, so there is the absolute incentive for our instore teams to action orders as soon as they are received.” says Shane. “By having the ability to do this, we have also eliminated any channel conflict.”
What’s in store for the future?
There are several exciting additions to the omnichannel repertoire currently in the pipeline. Cue and Triquestra are working together to bring endless aisle and store to door to their customers as part of the Infinity omnichannel solution.
“A customer could be trying a dress on in store, and find it’s not available in the size they require.” says Shane. “Instead of waiting for the correct item to be transferred to the store or travelling to another store, the customer can secure the item then and there, and choose to either use Click & Collect or have the item delivered to them, including same day, if geography permits”
In addition to the endless aisle solution for instore customers, Cue is also working on shop-able screens. Customers will be able to shop instore on a touchscreen and either collect their chosen item or have their purchase delivered. This method of shopping has the added benefit of providing customers with a holistic digital view with the ability to buy every single product available across the entire business, both online and in store. They can browse and purchase in their own time or choose to work with a Cue team member, who can assist with their expertise and knowledge.
Cue’s entrepreneurial spirit and ability to deliver the latest trends in tandem with international catwalks, is what keeps customers coming back for more.
“Our business model and the way we operate, involves a lot of short runs,” says Shane. “We are quick to provide customers with the latest fashion from the design floor to the shop floor in a matter of weeks.”
“Our customers are now able to secure items by viewing them online, in addition to the option of selecting items that are available across our network of shops.”
“Previously, we only focused on offering inventory and stock available from our website, whereas now we have opened it up to our entire inventory across our whole business - it’s a great benefit for both our customers and business as a whole.”
With 40% of online orders going via Click & Collect, the customer response has exceeded expectations.
“The increase in orders and uptake of Click & Collect by our customers, really speaks for itself,”