We sat down with Zhen Hann Leow, Group E-Commerce Manager at Gazman, to examine the changes in online shopper behaviour, blurring the lines between online and offline, and what's next for the family-owned business.
Menswear retailer, Gazman, has been in the game for nearly 50 years. Currently, with more than 80 stores across Australia, when the pandemic hit, the retailer – like many others – had to push e-commerce harder than ever.
Following the online push as a result of the initial lockdown measures in 2020, Gazman had to scale its fulfilment fast and understand the best ways to cater to the online growth. “Inventory management has also been a challenge with a need to strike a balance between consolidations to our DC to support the online growth but also not leaving stores unprepared to open back up again,” says Leow.
Despite this jump online during the pandemic, Gazman had already planned to implement an omnichannel strategy. Of course, the pandemic played a role in speeding things up. “The pandemic did accelerate our plans in this area to create a more seamless shopping experience for our customers, with initiative such as Ship from Store, Click & Collect, etc. to make more of our stock available for online purchase,” Leow tells us.
“We also accelerated plans to start selling across more marketplaces such as THE ICONIC. The business was also working towards more targeted marketing communications, which has become more important than ever before with the growth of online shoppers.”
Despite the wave of online shoppers that arrived on the scene during the pandemic, Gazman actually didn’t see much of a change in its shopper behaviour. With an ‘already older’ demographic than the traditional e-commerce shopper, the retailer’s strategy aligned with its consumer to make the shopping experience enjoyable.
“The strategy here has actually not changed much, as the Gazman demographic is a bit older than the traditional online audience, so we have always strived towards making the online shopping experience as simple as possible, which does sometimes mean being quite particular about which new technologies we adopt, and the pace at which we adopt them, so as not to bombard our customers with too much change at once,” he says. “Any new features or functionalities have to be both easy to understand, as well as easy to explain for our customer service team.”
This doesn’t mean that no improvements were made to develop a better online experience, though, Leow tells Power Retail. “Efforts were made to bring attention to our more comfortable ‘at home’ style clothing, rather than any of the more formal/workwear styles. But even then, customers were still purchasing what they usually did for the most part. What has definitely changed is just the sheer volume of customer enquiries, which has increased significantly with the increase in new customers. We’ve increased our capacity in the Customer Service team to cater for this,” he says.
Behind the scenes, the Gazman team worked with Searchspring to create a more streamlined and automated product and merchandising arrangement. What was initially a manual affair – requiring constant maintenance as products sold and new products were added – is now a more automated experience. “Searchspring’s automated rules-based merchandising has saved us a great deal of time which we can spend in other areas, with only the occasional adjustment needed based on certain products the marketing team wants to highlight,” Leow tells us. “In terms of our site search, this has certainly improved in relevancy, and we’ve seen revenue attributed to site search more than double since implementing Searchspring.”
While the website’s backend is a major development for Gazman, the retailer has had to increase its versatility and scaling up recourses to accommodate the surge of online shoppers. “We had to increase our flexibility and resourcing, particularly in warehouse fulfilment, customer service, and inventory management to cater to the online growth we’ve seen the past year, and have scaled up resourcing in our online DC and customer service teams,” Leow explains.
As mentioned earlier, the omnichannel strategy has long been in demand for Gazman shoppers, and the retailer understands this in spades. As Leow tells Power Retail, Gazman has put in “significant work into uniting our online and offline customer profiles into a single source of truth; to better understand their behaviour now that they are utilising multiple channels to purchase. The launch of our Ship from Store initiative has also meant that customers now have greater access to stock from multiple channels. The potential for future lockdowns means we can’t rely on any single channel to carry the business through any uncertain periods,” he says.
What does the future of retail look like to the team at Gazman? It’s all about personalisation! “We expect to see greater personalisation in FY22, as more customers start shopping online more frequently and start building up a purchase profile at their preferred e-commerce sites,” says Leow.
Interestingly, he also expects to see Amazon become one of the biggest names in the e-commerce space, driven primarily by its loyalty program, Prime. We’ve often said that 2021 is the ‘Year of Retention’, and the same can be said for Gazman and other leading online retailers. “The ease with which customers can compare products and prices through search, as well as the growth in marketplaces such as Amazon and THE ICONIC has meant that customer loyalty to any one brand is hard to achieve,” Leow explains. How can retailers achieve this? According to Leow: “There needs to be greater segmentation of customer databases for targeted marketing, combined with increased investment in customer loyalty/rewards programs.”
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