Who is Crew Clothing?
Founded 25 years ago, Crew Clothing Company sells smart casual clothing for men and women. With a strong online presence and 80 stores nationwide, Crew remains distinctive in the face of a challenging retail market thanks to its heritage in high-quality, coastal style.
The impact of an increasingly volatile retail market
During the last five years the retail climate in the UK has been increasingly competitive and volatile, with even the most firm high-street favourites unable to withstand the pressure. The clothing sector in particular has been unpredictable, with a number of high-profile casualties within Crew’s competitive set. In a recent survey two-thirds of shoppers (64%) felt that retailers didn’t truly know or understand them, suggesting the key difficulties faced by retailers today could be attributed to a lack of customer understanding.
‘The Crew Club’
Crew identified the importance of forming a closer relationship with their customers and having a deeper understanding of their constantly evolving wants and needs. Crew’s insight community ‘The Crew Club’ played a vital role in their transformation to a more insights-driven organisation, and empowered the product, design, and marketing teams to inject the voice of the customer into every key business decision.
Bringing the true voice of the customer into the HQ
One notable example is the physical and cultural disconnect between Crew’s largely young, urban head office and more mature, rural customer base. This disconnect is a reoccurring theme across fashion retailers where often head office employees are not representative of the brand’s target market. The result of this is design and product decisions being made based on who the team perceives their customer base to be, without the solid insight to back it up. The Crew Club was able to bridge this gap by bringing the true voice of the customer into the head office.
“Our design and marketing teams are no longer designing for and marketing to who they imagine the Crew customer to be, but who they know it is, thanks to the insight provided by The Crew Club.” – Thomas Whelan, Customer Insight & CRM Manager, Crew Clothing
Product and Range Optimisation
The regular engagement with loyal customers also empowered Crew to withdraw certain product ranges from stores. Feedback revealed that customers would generally not consider buying these particular products from Crew, due to heavy competition. Removing these products from the in-store offering has allowed the team to better utilise their retail spaces, and they were rewarded with a noticeable improvement in other categories. As a brand, being able to make agile and customer-led decisions such as the above has huge significance for more than one reason. Aside from the financial and logistical success Crew has experienced, being able to demonstrate to customers that their opinions have been taken on board and actively influenced key business decisions is invaluable.
A more relevant and personalised customer experience
To be a market leader, customer-centricity needs to be embedded within every department across the business. Crew has demonstrated this by ensuring all senior stakeholders are invested in the The Crew Club. As well as product and design, marketing has also greatly benefitted from deeper customer insight in terms of engagement, traffic, and response rates.
The blog has seen a 22% increase in traffic since it was renamed by Crew customers, and a marketing email that was based on customer feedback from previous communications generated over £20k in sales. A key element of this is the effective segmentation of their audience, which is done using the member group functionality within the community. Crew are now able to send targeted communications to a specific group of like-minded customers, based on their disclosed preferences and interests. As a customer, contextually relevant communication from a brand make interactions with that brand all the more valuable.
Measuring the impact of the community
With new market entrants disrupting the landscape every day, the pace of innovation of a retail company needs to be accelerated. It is no longer sufficient to know that a small subsection of your customers are happy (or unhappy), you need to understand the why, or the context. The Crew Club provides an ongoing pulse of the customer, allowing the team to make customer-led decisions in a way which is faster, cheaper, and more effective than traditional research methods.
In addition to the cultural shift, Crew has demonstrated a tangible business impact and return on investment. By investing in a customer-centric approach they have seen improvements to retention, customer experience, the product life-cycle, in-store layouts, and marketing communications. In an incredibly demanding clothing market their metrics highlight that engaging with customers using a relationship-based approach does have an impact on how often a customer shops with you, and the amount they are willing to spend:
- Increased in-store conversion by 1.2 percentage points
- A growth in ATV (Average Transaction Value) of 25% for members, and 5% overall
- 91% of Crew Club members shopped with them last year
Crew's achievements over the past year led to them being chosen as our 2018 New Community Visionary Award Winner. Vision Critical are proud to have been a part of Crew’s transformation, and we will be showcasing their full case study at our flagship Customer Intelligence event of the year in London.