Omnichannel hedge: $3bn global Geelong powerhouse Cotton On re-platforms ecom in bid to boost CX, loyalty, hires Adore’s Michaela Michaut to spearhead acquisition, mulls in-store rethink as pandemic shopping habits swing
Cotton On Group, the global fashion juggernaut operating out of Geelong, has overhauled its e-commerce operation and hired Michaela Michaut from Adore Beauty to spearhead customer acquisition. The firm is also grappling with how best to harness its 1,300 physical stores as international economies emerge from restrictions and shopping habits begin to swing back.
What you need to know:
- Cotton On Group has 're-platformed' its e-commerce operation to boost CX and better harness data.
- Adore Beauty acquisition and retention lead Michaela Michaut hired as Head of Customer Acquisition.
- Global retailer taking omnichannel focus as physical shopping habits settle after forced online shift.
Cotton On Group, the circa $3bn global clothing firm operating out of Geelong is backing an e-commerce overhaul and in-store rethink to drive growth as retailers grapple to gauge where the physical-digital balance will settle after two years of Covid disruption.
Started from the back of a Ford Bronco in 1988 by Nigel Austin, Cotton On's first store opened three years later. Annual sales are now circa $3bn and the firm operates in 22 countries, 18 directly, employing 1,800 staff across 1,300 stores, roughly half of which are in Australia, with South Africa the US its next biggest markets.
Cotton On, Cotton On Body and footwear and accessories brand Rubi are the largest in the stable with widest international footprint. Other brands include Ceres Life, Factorie and Supré. The Group also owns Typo, which started out as a stationary brand but has since branched into homeware and looks to be developing into a broader marketplace.
Now the retailer is backing a newly re-platformed e-commerce operation – with brands sub-domained rather than the previous single umbrella structure – to improve customer experience and unlock data that can better harnessed across the global business.
Under e-commerce chief Brendan Sweeney, Michaela Michaut has been hired from Adore Beauty to head customer acquisition.
Michaut helped build a loyalty programme at Adore that has delivered double-digit order value increases from members versus non-members. Ahead of the ASX-listed beauty retailer's next set of results Michaud could not disclose numbers, but hinted strong loyalty growth has continued after notching 180,000 members within the first six months of the programme: Now 12 months since launch it is "well into the hundreds of thousands of members".
She hopes to repeat the trick at Cotton On Group, where the Perks loyalty programme is of a different order of magnitude, with millions of members able to earn and use points across all brands in the stable.
“Each of the brands have their own customers. But Perks means an apparel brand customer is also incentivised to buy stationary from Typo, so it encourages cross-brand shopping,” Michaut told Mi3. A key aim of the new platform structure is “to better understand how to optimise experience for each brand, but then under the Cotton On Group umbrella, harness all the learning and the data to drive better CX and better results across the business”, she added.
“It’s a global group, a global plan, great brands and I’m incredibly excited to see where we can take things.”
The firm is simultaneously focusing on physical regrowth in a bid to drive stronger omnichannel growth after Covid accelerated e-commerce shifts already underway.
Globally retailers are finding that so-called omnichannel customers, those that shop both in-store and online, are most loyal. Now they are working out how to drive growth through those cohorts as clicks and bricks customers also act as a hedge against post-Covid buying habits that have yet to settle.
Cotton On Group is still opening outlets in Australia and the US, underlining its faith in the future of physical retail. But like all retailers emerging from the pandemic, it is rethinking the role of stores and experiences as data emerges from countries learning to live with Covid at different speeds.
As customers relearn habits curbed during restrictions, a sprint for physical transformation may now be required in tandem with retailers' recent massive digital investments.
Building mental availability in audio has never been more challenging. Once-traditional radio businesses are now competing with video, streaming and social media content – but audio has some powerful strengths in that battle. As NOVA Entertainment’s Adam Johnson writes, the ‘Place’ in McCarthy’s ‘Four Ps’ is key with quality content and ubiquitous access –physical availability – driving marketers’ goals through audio.
Patagonia’s repairs, New Balance’s leather leading as consumers’ vote with wallets for future value – conscience and commerce key
What can Benjamin Franklin, the ‘Green Revolution’ and consumer purpose teach us about future value? A lot, writes VMLY&R’s Troy Nicoll. In the third instalment of VMLY&R’s value series, he says brands that move last will be remembered – negatively. And those that understand ‘value’ as being a holistic, long-term relationship with consumers – like Patagonia and New Balance – will help reimagine marketing thinking. People are already voting with their wallets out of principle, identity, and survival.
There’s an unfair image of Millennials out there that paints them as poor financial managers, economics journalist Jess Irvine says. But they’re hungrier for information and advice than any generation before them. Despite this, a new survey from Nine has found that they’re becoming less sure of themselves. And with more than seven million Australians aged 18 to 39 set to inherit $320,000 each over the next 20 years – that’s $3.5 trillion in total – the brands that share smart information that doesn’t oversimplify things can help these Millennials – and themselves.