Fashion Reverie Exclusive: Endear, the Retail Application that Gets it Right

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If you have been reading and listening to mainstream news, there is a prediction that the US economy might be headed for a recession, with retail stock prices continuing to decline.  Bummer right!! However, if you examine this prediction more carefully, you will find that the one single element that as been keeping the US economy afloat is consumer spending.

How does one make sense of this quixotic analysis? Well, you can’t, particularly if you are the average consumer. Even some expert economists are scratching their heads!!

With a possible recession looming, retail stores are scrambling to increase sales and retain customers. Many are finding that Instagram and similar social media platform may increase impulse buying but yields very little when establishing return customers or loyalty. What’s a brick and mortar to do.

Launched in 2018, ​retail application ​Endear​ is reinvigorating brick and mortar sales by putting the relationship back into retail. The user-friendly tool tracks consumer spending habits and preferences to help associates deliver elevated customer service and sales.

Image courtesy of 3d Public Relations & Marketing

Endear co-founder Leigh Sevin spoke with Fashion Reverie about how Endear has found that delicate data link between e-commerce and brick and mortar experiences. This aggregated data is beginning to transform how sales associate communicates with customers.

FR: Did you have a retail background before you came up with the idea for Endear?

Leigh: I did not. So, when I first came up with the idea for Endear, I spent two years just learning about the clothing retail industry. I originally approached from the consumer side of things, trying to make it easier for shoppers to have a positive online experience. Eventually, what we realized is that consumers are the most advanced when it comes to online shopping. We began to understand that challenge for online shopping centered mostly with retailers. So, that is the market we focused on for Endear.

FR: You saw glitch in the online shopping experience and based the Endear app on the glitch.

Leigh: Exactly. The experience glitch is the way we saw it. Shoppers think of a brick and mortar brand and its online component as one in the same and wishes it operated that way. It is difficult for retailers to get to the two shopping platforms to match, experientially.  But obviously there needs to be a cohesiveness between online shopping and brick and mortar.

We developed Endear to focus on the brick and mortar experience. There has been so much technology developed around the online experience and making it more efficient, but very little developed for store experience efficiency.

FR: Why is an app, like Endear, necessary or important for the brick and mortar experience?

Leigh: In-store shopping is not having the same impact it once did. We wanted somehow to use a brick and mortar resource that has always been underutilized, that is the store associate. The store associate is incredibly knowledgeable about the product or brand and has a great way with customers. That has always been their claim to fame, so to speak.

We want to get brands to leverage that skill set in a much more universal, scalable way. And because foot traffic is very competitive—customers are not just going to randomly walk into your store—there must be a reason for customers to come into your store. Your sales associates are a part of that reason.

Image courtesy of 3d Public Relations & Marketing

FR: Let’s talk about what the Endear app is.

Leigh: Endear is an app for your clientele. Clienteling gives you the ability to create a special relationship with customers that spans their inaction with brands across channels. For us that means leveraging store data so that you create a more personalized experience for your shoppers. This leveraged information is given over to the associates in a secure way.

Previously, sales associates had to store data information on their own using pen and paper. With the Endear app, they can, in real time, target the right customers, create socialized content for those customers, and send it through our centralized messaging platform through email and text. More importantly, the sales associates and stores can track how these messages converts into sales both in store and online.

With these algorithms, stores now can synchronize the data between stores and sales associates, making for a more personalized experience for the shopper. Putting that information in the hands of a store manager and/or sales associates can make a huge difference in the bottom line of stores.

FR: Where do you get your data that sales associates/store managers could use?

Leigh: When a retailer decides to use Endear the first thing that they do is connect the POS platforms and e-commerce platforms so we can make all that data available for their store. The most popular platform that we integrate with is Shopify, and a few others.

FR: How did you come up with the name, Endear?

Leigh: Originally, we were called something us, but we decided we wanted a name that was aspirational to our mission of generating sales by creating long-lasting, heartfelt relationships with customers. The goal should be to “endear” the brand to the customer and carry that brand message through with interactions with customers.

FR: It has been discovered that Instagram does not promote return customers or long-time customers. How is Endear facilitating return customers and deeper relationships between store and consumer?

Leigh: Endear has demonstrated that when customers get messages from sales associates the window time of purchase goes from 92 days—when is the standard time of purchases for customers receiving messaging—goes down to 62 days. And that is because associates are not helping the brand—which is what you see with Instagram—but also personalizing the messaging because they have the aggregated data to do so. The data is very specific about the customer, from their personal style to their last purchase to size, fit, budget, etc. We have found that with Endear there is a 54% response from customers getting back to sales associates who messaged them.

Image courtesy of 3d Public Relations & Marketing

FR: Are you seeing that brands and stores who use Endear are seeing an increase in sales in brick and mortar stores and online? And if so, what are the percentages?

Leigh: By using Endear we are seeing about an 18% increase in in-store sales. What we have also found is that with Endear the stores are experiencing a longer-term relationship with customers and a decrease in product returns.

Sometimes sales associates are concerned that using these digital algorithms and messaging customers will only cause customers to shop more online, and they will lose their sales commissions. With Endear we have found that customers are sticking with the channel they previously used to purchase. So, if they are used to purchasing at brick and mortar, they are staying with that. Store shoppers are not migrating to online.

FR: Most online sales, if it’s not impulse buying, centers mostly around staples for the wardrobe. With Endear are you seeing customers online shopping expanding beyond wardrobe staples?

Leigh: What we are seeing is our sales associates being able to leverage their best-selling items and letting their customer know what pairs well with that best-selling item based on the data from Endear.

FR: So, in one way the sales associate using Endear is acting as a stylist, in some sense.

Leigh: Absolutely. We have even had some stores launch styling programs because of tools and features that Endear offers. One of the popular things for stores to do is take advantage of Endear’s lookbooks. Endear’s lookbooks are ways for stores to create private client experiences. These special lookbooks can be designed specifically based on each customers’ algorithms including climate locations, design preferences, color schemes, and other specifics. Customers will get pieces that are specifically matched to their preferences based on Endear’s data.

Jarbo store image courtesy of 3d Public Relations & Marketing

FR: Which brick and mortars are using Endear?

Leigh: Some example of stores using Endear is Margaux, Jarbo—which has stores in Seattle, Oregon, California, and Massachusetts—Mercer, and MM. LaFleur.

FR: How would you like to see Endear expand?

Leigh: In the short term our goal is to equip stores with the same marketing and sales tools that every large e-commerce company has and giving them the necessary insights so they can increase sales and build long-term customer relationships.  We want to also shed light on how to make stores as efficient as possible. And over time we want to help improve the store experience for customers, looking at the opportunities that have worked well online and replicating that for a store experience.

—William S. Gooch

 

 

 

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