Forget online and offline – it’s all one brand nowadays

Do you find it difficult to manage your current retail shopping channels? Do you want to give customers more ways to shop with you?

Extending your brand experience across channels is stage two of the four-stage unified commerce journey. Here we share how Cue Clothing Co. is using unified commerce to improve the shopping experience and get new services up and running fast.

If you missed stage one, it’s all about getting an accurate and single view of your inventory.

Shane Lenton, CIO for Australasian fashion retailer Cue Clothing Co., says that he used to talk about online and offline channels. But these days, it’s all one unified channel.

He explains, “Our stores combine both physical and digital worlds to give customers a personalised and connected experience, plus access to the entire range of products from any location.

“Consumers don’t think of their retail experience as having ‘online’ or ‘offline’ elements anymore. They’re always navigating between the digital and physical worlds, and just see it as a single interaction with a brand.”

Shane was speaking at a recent business lunch in Auckland, where he shared Cue’s journey to create frictionless customer experiences.

He said that to offer a ‘one-brand’ experience, you first need to integrate all your customer and inventory data onto one platform. 

“Each and every channel can interact with the platform in near real time and everything stays in sync. You are then free to increase your channels and touchpoints to give customers the ability to shop anywhere and fulfil anywhere.”

Cue is using the Infinity unified commerce platform to give customers frictionless experiences across three brands, over 200 physical stores, eight online stores, concessions, in-store kiosks and a customer care team.


One platform to do the heavy lifting

Shane says that Cue has been on a journey over the last four to five years to bring channels closer together and connect the website and digital channels with its stores.

“A lot of established retailers are struggling with legacy systems and have bolted on solutions for the digital space that don’t easily integrate,” he says. “The reason unified commerce resonated with me is that it focuses on one having core platform do the heavy lifting and having a single source of truth to manage the customer data, inventory and order orchestration, rather than relying on too many systems to push and pull data everywhere.”

Changing the way customers shop

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Shane explains that Infinity’s centralised hub has made it possible to offer an ‘endless aisle’ capability that lets customers access Cue’s entire inventory from anywhere, including on the new shoppable screens they’ve got in five flagship stores.

“These days customers expect instant gratification – the ability to buy what they want and receive it when and where they want it,” says Shane. “So we’ve looked for new ways to get products to customers in the fastest, most cost-effective way possible, regardless of their location.”
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Cue now uses its more than 200 stores across New Zealand and Australia to create a competitive advantage. The stores serve as distribution centres for fulfilment options such as click-and-collect, store-to-door and 3-hour deliveries nationwide.

It recently changed its click-and-collect offering to include in-store pick-up within 30 minutes, making it one of the fastest online order fulfilment options in Australia.

Cue was one of the first brands to launch the ‘buy now, pay later’ Afterpay payment option in stores and online. Earlier this year, it also launched mobile payment platforms Alipay and WeChat, making it one of the first fashion brands to help visitors, students and ex-pats from China use their preferred method of payment when they’re in Australia.

The uptake and response to all the new features has exceeded expectations.

“We’ve seen a great return on investment for click-and-collect, which now makes up 30 percent of online transactions. The 3-hour delivery service totals 15 percent of all online transactions, and online transactions now make up 20 percent of all sales.”
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Since launching with Afterpay in December 2015, online sales have increased significantly, with 25-30 percent of payments going through Afterpay. And customers who use these new payment options are spending more and shopping more frequently.

Shane believes that Cue’s unified commerce platform and cross-platform experience ensures its strategy for engaging customers and encouraging repeat purchases is ahead of its competitors.

“Since turning on click-and-collect and store-to-door, we’ve had growth in incremental sales, as well as an uplift in sales from driving more online customers into stores.”

New services just keep coming

Cue uses APIs to expose data and functions and easily plug in and deploy new services, channels and devices. That makes it easy for Cue to partner with startups and tech companies outside the retail industry to take advantage of new capabilities and deliver results at a speed and scale that would be unachievable within a traditional omnichannel model.

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For example, Cue was the first Australian bricks and mortar retailer to provide nationwide 3-hour delivery by partnering with shipping platform Shippit. And it got the service going in record time. Shippit says that the process that takes most retailers six to 12 months to complete, was implemented by Cue in only one.

Shane is also investing in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and mobile to provide even more personalised customer experiences. The team recently launched personalised e-receipts for in-store purchases that include targeted product recommendations.

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Cue was the first Australian fashion brand to give customers a visual search tool to improve the shopping experience on mobile devices. Cue’s Style Finder lets shoppers search for styles by uploading saved images from their phone or by taking a live photo of something they wish to purchase. Developed in partnership with Alibaba Cloud, the search tool uses machine learning to improve its results and product matches over time.

Shane said the growth of mobile commerce was a key reason they launched Style Finder.

“Mobile purchases are our number one source of online revenue, with up to 70 per cent of traffic to our website on mobile devices,” he says. “Next, we will introduce FoyerLive’s connected change rooms so customers can view the range and request additional styles and sizes without having to leave the change room.”

Shane says that he’s enjoying the journey to deliver customers more seamless shopping experiences. “Infinity is our platform for innovating. It’s at the centre of everything we do. Adding new channels and services is no longer a case of ‘how?’. Instead we think ‘what’s next?’.”

Now that you’ve seen what a unified commerce approach can do for your inventory control and the purchase and payment options you can offer customers, it’s time to move to stage 3 - building genuinely meaningful customer experiences.

Look out for our next blog on this topic.

If you’d like to bring together your inventory and customer data and manage multiple channels, get in touch. We’d love to help you achieve greater agility, faster growth and better margins.

For more on how to give your retail business the flexibility and agility you want, download our ebook