The Most Admired Retailers Succeed With These 3 Strategies

Dollar Shave Club has long been recognized for its direct-to-consumer razor business, which disrupted the traditional market. This end-to-end customer-centric approach recently rocketed the company to a $1 billion acquisition by Unilever. The market is hungry for tailored, innovative experiences, and brands should look to success stories like Dollar Shave Club’s to inspire their approach to customer experience.

The most admired brands tend to have three strategies in common when it comes to customer experience: establishing a clear brand personality, amplifying user-generated content and seamlessly bridging online and offline experiences.

1. Leading With Your Personality

The right content doesn’t just help customers make a purchase, it also builds loyalty post-purchase and keeps people coming back for more. Brands are taking note: 76 percent of companies planned to create more content in 2016 than in previous years. With so many opportunities to offer editorial perspectives on topics customers care about, brands are eager to nurture the personality-driven content that will resonate best.

“Dollar Shave Club’s personality is an incredible asset, and demonstrates the value of retail brands interacting with customers authentically when, where and how they want.” – Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar

Dollar Shave Club started as an online subscription service in 2012. Its first YouTube video spread virally and helped build an engaged audience of 1.5 million subscribers. That video has now been viewed more than 22 million times. It established the brand’s irreverent personality, which permeates the entire customer experience.

Dollar Shave Club didn’t stop at YouTube videos. The brand touts its personality through regular content like its monthly lifestyle newsletter, “The Bathroom Minutes” — a tongue-in-cheek publication in tune with the company’s branding. Each issue includes a note from the chairman, quotes, member spotlights and trivia.

Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar, views this cult of personality as an important part of the customer experience. He comments, “Dollar Shave Club’s customers love the company for being exactly who they are. That personality is an incredible asset, and demonstrates the value of retail brands interacting with customers authentically when, where and how they want.”

2. Sharing the (Customer) Love

Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful, yet elusive piece of the brand puzzle. The key to nurturing positive word of mouth is to tap into social media and online communities to discover and share user-generated content. Data has shown that Millennials spend five hours a day with user-generated content and trust this content 50 percent more than other media.

“There’s something that inherently connects deeper with an audience when there’s less brand control in marketing material and more focus on a community member.” – Darryl Villacorta, Social Media Manager at Sprout Social

As Social Media Manager at Sprout Social, Darryl Villacorta is in tune with how the best brands weave their customers into their social strategy. “Using user-generated content is a powerful approach because audiences are more receptive to genuine messages,” Villacorta says. “There’s something that inherently connects deeper with an audience when there’s less brand control in marketing material and more focus on a community member.”

Sephora was one of the first beauty brands to experiment with using social media to  turn its customers into brand ambassadors. Its Beauty Boards allow customers to upload a photo with their makeup look, tag products used and post them directly to the Sephora website. Most recently, the brand tapped into the popularity of Snapchat by allowing beauty enthusiasts to directly purchase Sephora products from their Featured Stories feed. As new online communities emerge, brands like Sephora are finding success by creating opportunities for customers to create and share brand-centric content.

3. Striking the Right Balance Between Online and In-Store

In the past decade, many retail brands have struggled to extend their brick-and-mortar store experiences to the digital world. At the same time, e-commerce brands emerged with a focus on the digital customer experience and little-to-no physical store presence.

Today, we’re seeing brick-and-mortar and e-commerce brands find a common ground – the customer experience. For instance, men’s retailer Bonobos held off on store expansion until raising $55 million in new venture capital funding in 2015. Similarly the originally online-only eyeglass retailer Warby Parker raised $100 million in capital to expand its physical presence. Regardless of how they established themselves, all retailers recognize the need to deliver a consistent customer experience both online and offline.

“In the digital era, brands have the opportunity to explore the customer experience at all stages,” Sharma says. “This includes the traditional process of browsing and researching a product, as well as the increasingly important touch points that occur post-purchase: shipping, delivery and beyond.”

The most innovative and successful retailers understand that creating a superior customer experience requires a multi-faceted approach. The world that shoppers live in is constantly evolving, and brands must be ready to evolve with it — all while keeping customers at the center of their business.

We pared this down to 3 key strategies we see across today’s successful retailers, but let us know if there are other high-impact strategies you feel we missed – hit us on Twitter @narvarinc.