Welcome to episode 32 of PostFunnel’s Seven CRM Commandments series, where we get to the American fashion retailer Express.
So, is the Columbus, Ohio-based workwear retailer treating customers with CRM’s most updated best practices?
1. Be Transparent 10/10
It makes perfect sense that the retailer who sells corporate wear for the office would be experiencing a decrease in sales as most folks have been working from home for the past year.
According to Market Watch, the company reported “a 30% decline in comparable sales last quarter and would cut 10% of its corporate staff to help conserve cash.”
Express CEO Timothy Baxter said that “the company is not considering bankruptcy and continues to take decisive and appropriate action to manage liquidity throughout this prolonged pandemic.”
Retail Dive added that Express’ corporate cash cut would result in an estimated $13 million in cost savings in 2021.
“Further reducing our workforce was a difficult decision but was appropriate to calibrate the organization to capabilities of this new operating model,” said Baxter referring to the company’s inventory planning to help optimize efficiencies.
This is all really bad news for the brand, and we wish them a quick recovery. But for the sake of this segment here, the fact they’re open about the struggle and how the brand has been communicating its difficulties are humane and transparent.
2. Incentives and Perks 10/10
Yes, the brand is handing out discounts as shown in their HP banner below:
The discounted offers (40-60% off) as well as the $10 reward deal are both very enticing promotions to get shoppers buy with the brand, even more than once.
Express Insider, their membership program also calls for customers to join throughout the customer journey in a popup banner:
Express also gives customers 10% off any purchase for signing up to their emails.
And they also offer customers further deals and discounts for opening and using the Express credit card. Oh, and they have an entire Sale section on their website with tons of discounted items, offering up to 70% off clearance merchandise.
We can’t – and won’t – ask for more than this here.
3. Be Relevant 7/10
The brand offers customers BOPIS options with the ability to pick up items purchased online in stores nearest to them – a must offer nowadays.
The brand also offers curbside pickups and other express (yuh) pick-up options – not only making it easy and convenient for the shopper but also good for combating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping customers safe.
Obviously, a big chunk of the world is shopping for the holiday season RN and it is a stressful time – therefore, Express acknowledges that with these two banners at the bottom of their HP.
However, we deducted a few points from this commandment. We couldn’t find any mention of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the brand’s product offering, as many other brands we’ve analyzed have communicated this to customers.
4. Be Helpful 3/10
Other than being helpful to customers by means of providing them with all the info they need to shop at these stressful times – as well as numerous methods to shop accordingly – we couldn’t find anything Express has recently been doing to perhaps “give back” to society, the community and/or the world.
Other brands we have analyzed to date have been helpful throughout this challenging year. Whether it be donating merchandise to frontline workers or those directly affected by COVID-19 or working with non-profit organizations, or simply raising awareness – we didn’t see any of that.
Nor anything regarding any other global trend – such as green initiatives or social issues. Thing is, these things are expected from brands nowadays.
5. Realtime Personalization 1/10
After adding an item to our cart, we went back to the brand’s HP – only to realize that our experience wasn’t personalized to our product choice. I.e., we added sweats to our cart and weren’t presented with any relevant item suggestions.
When continuing to shop – no upsell or cross-sell techniques were used either to a) try to make us buy additional items (to perhaps match the sweatpants with) or b) cross us over to another (more expensive?) category of purchase.
Finally, no retargeting efforts were made in realtime by the brand when we exited their website and went on to our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter.)
6. Master UX 7/10
When entering the brand’s FAQ page, a chatbot appeared at the bottom right-hand corner of the page – and we thought it was a helpful one.
On the other hand, when shopping around – we received the following countdown banner that reads “Hurry! Going fast,” about the item we literally just added to our cart. This sense of urgency was redundant as we didn’t even browse more than one category of clothing – nor were we anywhere close to finished shopping.
In fact, numerous times throughout the user experience, we were interrupted with various promotional popups. Annoying!
Still, however, we had a fair experience with the brand – whereby the basic stuff was simple to perform – and finding the categories of clothing we came to purchase was also easy (also thanks to the chatbot).
Also, the brand offers an abundance of information for shoppers – to really make it clear as to when and how items will be delivered to customers.
7. Leverage Social Media 4/10
Although, the retailer has an abundance of followers on all three social media channels that we checked – we feel they could have been doing a bit more to cater to them on each channel with appropriate content/videos/campaigns/offers/promos/and more.
Express’ Twitter account boasts over 235K Followers. They post in high frequency – almost every day – mostly promoting their latest collections. Here the brand does take a more “timely/relevant” approach by promoting comfy clothing:
Comfy, cool, and destined to be in to your closet.
SHIRT 01766096 https://t.co/08VCXrJxg6
HENLEY 05738505 https://t.co/9jH3JkcKHH
JOGGERS 03043398 https://t.co/lhTQt9n3S4
SNEAKERS 04531035 https://t.co/Y2S7JK52mg pic.twitter.com/ebjZtrrQBL
— EXPRESS (@express) December 20, 2020
Their Facebook account boasts over 4.7 Million likes. They post the exact same content as they do on Twitter. We never give extra points for this as it’s completely missing on the opportunity these different platforms offer brands to build meaningful relationships with customers.
Recently, we’ve been writing a whole lot about D&I, and we were pleased to see the brand acknowledging it:
Their Instagram account has over 1 Million followers. Again, on this channel, too, the brand mostly promotes their latest outfits, obviously a lot of sweaters and winter caps as well as cozy fleece jackets. Kudos to Express on their Insta page, which makes a work wear apparel line, looks super comfy for these work from home times. For example:
View this post on Instagram
But overall, no real attempt to use social media for anything, well, social.
Overall, Express is getting a 42/70 here (60%), placing them at the bottom of our table. Sometimes there are just one or two things we can point to that a brand needs to improve in order to boost their CRM tactics dramatically.
But, unfortunately, no one thing, in this case, can make a significant difference.
From personalization (a glaring hole) through social media and to be helpful as a brand, and that’s before we’re talking about some much-needed minor improvements on UX and relevancy – an overhaul is required here if they want to meet the modern customer’s expectations.
Now more than ever, consumers are expecting your brand to not only be there for them but to be helpful, relevant, and inclusive to all. The faster Express realizes this, the better.
Here are the full rankings of all the brands we analyzed to date:
- Pets at Home 91%
- Lowe’s 90%
- Petco 90%
- Target 87%
- Uniqlo 86%
- Vrbo 83%
- West Elm 81%
- The North Face 81%
- Holland and Barret 80%
- lululemon 80%
- Brooks Running 79%
- Best Buy 78%
- Etsy 76%
- The Body Shop 74%
- Gymshark 73%
- William Hill 73%
- Essence 72%
- Iceland Foods 71%
- Total Wine & More 70%
- Tommy Hilfiger 70%
- Walgreens 70%
- Kohl’s 70%
- United Colors of Benetton 69%
- Buy Buy Baby 68%
- Fiverr 67%
- Next 63%
- Patagonia 61%
- Express 60%
- Burberry 60%
- Zara 59%
- COS 57%
- Dream11 53%
We publish a new analysis every week, so watch this space for more brand analyses coming your way!
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