The more you focus, the better you’ll do
Being a retailer these days isn’t easy. Price wars, uncertain economics and globalisation give a new twist to the selling environment. But there are plenty out there who have made it work and done a remarkably good job of it too.
The secret is to make yourself outstanding. Some, like Uber and Dyson for example, do this through innovation in product that is way ahead of everyone else.
Others achieve this through the customer experience. Good service in itself is difficult to use as a selling point. But truly remarkable and outstanding service… well, that pretty much sells itself.
Clothing brand Charles Tyrwhitt embodies this point beautifully. In a market that could be too easy to lose yourself in the ‘me-too’ culture, they’ve carved a lovely little (or not so little) niche for themselves.
So how have they done it?
TRUST – THE SOLID FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH
Nick Wheeler, the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt, is very hands-on and will often appear on the coal-face up close and personal with his customers. Much of the company’s copy is written in the first person, as if he wants to talk personally to each of his customers. He makes himself easily accessible, holding himself personally accountable for the customer experience.
It’s this understanding of the power of trust that has underpinned the growth of the company.
“Trust is integral to all successful brands, underpinning confidence and influencing our preferences and loyalty” (Andrew McCarthy, British Brands Group)
Trust can be earnt in a number of ways. For example, their flagship store is located in Jermyn Street, London – seen as the home of top-notch shirt-makers.
Then there’s the “Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade” which they won in 2016. A royal stamp of approval – you can’t get much better than that!
They also make a lot of being British. Their entire tone of voice and assurance of British ‘built-to-last’ quality makes it a trustworthy brand. Overseas, this proud, sturdy Britishness is increasingly sought-after.
To establish and broadcast their trustworthiness, they use an independent online customer feedback mechanism – Feefo. This encourages unabridged, raw feedback from their customers that is visible to all. It enables CT to reply to any reviews in person. You may be apprehensive of online reviews but the truth is that if your customer service is up to scratch (or preferably out-of-this-world-awesome) then you have nothing to fear.
If that wasn’t enough, every product comes with a no-quibble 6-month guarantee. Honestly it’s that good. And not only does it assure customers of the quality, it also comes with a more subtle benefit. Nick himself reveals the thinking behind this:
“I have a policy that if someone doesn’t like a shirt, I don’t want them to keep it. Otherwise every time they see the shirt in their wardrobe they’ll think something negative about us.” (Nick Wheeler, Founder, Charles Tyrwhitt)
VOLUME IS THE ANSWER
It’s fairly commonly known that selling in volume is the best route to profitability. But the reality is often very difficult, especially in the world of online shopping. People these days don’t want to buy in bulk, preferring to order as and when they need to.
This creates quite a considerable problem for marketers: how do you keep up the margins when you’re shifting little but often?
Charles Tyrwhitt get this absolutely bang on. The majority of their offers are based around multi-buy discounts. Not only this, but they also highlight the savings customers can make as a result of bulk buying.
Customers see this as a neat way of securing a good deal; Charles Tyrwhitt see this as a neat way of maintaining a healthy margin.
CUSTOMERS ARE WORTH CARING FOR
Charles Tyrwhitt believe in happy customers. They don’t shy away from investing in top-quality service staff who can be relied upon to care for customers in the same way as a small family company would.
If you’ve ever had to get in touch with CT, you’ll have found that it’s incredibly easy either to email (with assurance of a quick response) or pick up the phone.
There’s a lot to be said for a well-run, genuinely caring call centre in this rather remote world of online ordering. In one sense, it’s a product of the digital age that people demand a response immediately. So by allowing customers to pick up the phone and speak to someone who understands and is proactive, they are on to a winner.
What have they avoided?
TRYING TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE
“It may sound rather boring but I find that the more I focus on fewer things, the better the business does.” (Nick Wheeler, Founder, Charles Tyrwhitt)
You could say that Charles Tyrwhitt offer a pretty narrow range, especially when you compare with other retailers. But the point is that they know their target market, and more importantly know what that market wants.
They aim for the professionals – particularly men – specialising in shirts but also offering ties, trousers, shoes, suits and other accessories.
That said, they haven’t forgotten that often it’s women who will do the shopping for the blokes (guys just can never be bothered, right?!). So they factor that in to their brand message so as not to lose out on a key buying channel.
They aren’t trying to target everyone. They’re not just another clothing retailer; that would be too broad a target. Nor are they selling absolutely everything a professional needs; it would be impossible to be the best in every single category.
Instead, they focus on being the best at everything they do. And they know that to do that, they have to remain laser-focussed on exactly the target market they want to sell to.
FORGETTING THE PAIN POINTS
You know how frustrating it is when you can’t find that perfect shirt, or the right tie to match? Online shopping is great in so many ways, but rifling through the options on a screen isn’t always that easy.
Charles Tyrwhitt recognise this and, more importantly, they’ve DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Have a look at the website (www.ctshirts.com) and you’ll see the incredibly detailed filters. These enable buyers to refine their search by type, style, colour, pattern, material, size, cuff style, sleeve length and goodness knows how many other categories.
They also show some really insightful recommendations too – the sort that you’d expect to find if you went in-store. When you choose a shirt, for example, the site will recommend a tie that matches it best.
What all this points up is that they’ve really thought through the customer journey. They’ve identified the pain points of online shopping and methodically eliminated them, one by one.
Charles Tyrwhitt as a brand knows that to succeed long-term, it must win the battle of the pain points. If it’s easy to buy, customers will stick.
What’s in it for you?
How can you apply all this to your own brand? Here are a few tips:
- Never underestimate the power of trust. Not only do consumers refuse to buy from companies they do not trust, but over two-thirds would recommend a trusted company to others according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer. It’s absolutely crucial to understand what will destroy or undermine trust in your brand. Eliminate those factors and build on those which will create trust and you’ll find not only deeper relationships with consumers but also a powerful selling tool in word-of-mouth;
- Sell in volume; but don’t become a commodity. Find ways to increase the sales volume and you’ll notice instant positive impacts on your bottom line. Just don’t cheapen your brand image in the process – highlight the value and quality at the same time;
- Look after the customers you’ve got. It’s well known that it costs 5-10 times more to win a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. So it’s well worth investing in some good old-fashioned customer care. Make it exceptional and you’ll be a winner;
- Laser-focus. It’s almost impossible to be the best at everything. If you’re struggling with knowing what to focus on, take a look at your strengths and concentrate on them. You can then scale this into other markets or products as you get into the groove;
- Remove the pain points. Customers will always follow the easiest, most painless buying route. If you can remove more of the friction points than anyone else, you’ll find that customers will want to buy from you.
Do you know of a brand that is successful? How can you learn from what they do well? Maybe you own or manage a brand and want to share your story. Share your insight with us here…
Sources: ‘Consumer Trust in Brands’ report by www.britishbrandsgroup.org.uk, www.ctshirts.com, Telegraph Media Group Ltd, Thomas Leuthard (image) plus a good dose of my own personal opinions and experiences. This post is written by our marketing suit Simon Besley and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the company; it’s intended to be a helpful review to dissect what I think the brand does well, and how we can all learn from it. If it’s helpful to you, then I’m happy…
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