Crocs realizes the value of retail tech. Source: Shutterstock

Crocs realizes the value of retail tech. Source: Shutterstock

Crocs keen on using tech to wow customers in the APAC

TWELVE to twenty-four months ago, if you told a retailer that they’d be looking to turbocharge the experience they offer with cutting-edge technologies, they’d laugh at you.

Today, it’s become a matter of survival — and the biggest and smartest retailers are working on exciting and innovative solutions to transform the retail experience they offer.

Tech Wire Asia interviewed Crocs APAC Director of Retail and Partner Store Operations Enrico Baldo recently to learn about how the Colorado-based company plans on using tech to win hearts with new technologies this year.

The company may have gone from US$1.2 million in sales in 2003 to US$1.2 billion in 2013, but over the next couple of years, things got challenging (and interesting) for the footwear maker.

Seen as a company catering to the young, Crocs is definitely late to the digital game — but Baldo seems ready to more than make-up for ignoring technology in the past. This year, they’re going all out on retail-tech and they’re bringing their A-game.

For starters, Baldo says that the company is updating its point of sale (POS) system in order to better cater to the new trends in the retail space.

“By the end of 2019, all our retail stores will have more sophisticated technologies to provide a better customer experience.”

Some of the initial changes that the company is making include creating a seamless return option from the on-line channel, building an integrated customer database, and offering real-time product search.

Although these sound too rudimentary, Crocs promises it is only getting started — with new and exciting offerings to be showcased at its new concept store.

“Our new store concept is more “digital” friendly (highly customizable) and perfect for medium to small locations. The window and the wall header can accommodate LCD panels while the team will use a tablet to help the consumer in their product selection.”

Baldo seems confident about the company’s brick and mortar offerings and feels that technology will help turbocharge the company’s offering, but the plan for e-commerce seems a lot more exciting given the potential that online marketplaces offer.

Ahead of his session at the upcoming eTail Asia 2019 event in Singapore next month, the retail veteran who started his career with Bata way back in 2005, sheds some light on the company’s online strategy for Tech Wire Asia’s audience.

Crocs to bite into APAC’s e-commerce boom

The first thing that Baldo’s team realized when re-thinking the digital strategy for the company was that people expect more freedom when it comes to paying online.

Crocs is now keen on exploring the leading and upcoming payment methods in the market as they know it is key to converting customers looking to make a purchase online.

As a result, the organization has signed up with Alipay and WeChat Pay (and those in the retail industry know that the company has done the right thing).

Next, Baldo is working on improving the online shopping experience that Crocs provides to its customers — and from the looks of it, the company is employing a well-rounded strategy that not only ties the UI and UX to the customer journey but also brings in elements of social media to strengthen customer engagement.

“Crocs is using software that continuously tests several areas for example, from the website’s background colors, to product positioning, pricing, emails, promotions, etc.”

On a tactical level, Baldo’s team is attempting to enhance the on-site consumer journey by activating their USPs at the right time and customizing their consumer entry point, be it email, search, mobile, or PC.

The company is zeroing in on social media to learn about its customers as well, using the information to tailor what it offers and who it caters to.

“Leveraging online exclusives, limited editions, key festival exclusive items, promotional exclusive items by tying the loop between social to online, driving the buy now shopping experience.”

“Social listening – by focusing on growing our female consumer base it is important to see how we can benefit from knowing more about our consumer instead of branching off into other micro segments which will reap small rewards.”

Finally, and fortunately, Crocs’ efforts to ride the digital wave hasn’t ended with improvements to its brick and mortar and online presence. The company is also using technology to transform shipping.

After all, Amazon and some of the other e-commerce giants have spoiled customers with same-day shipping and next-day deliveries — and its what customers tend to benchmark every delivery experience against.

So, when Baldo says that “the company is working on new software which will improve our planning and logistics side of the business”, and emphasizes that Crocs’ “software investigate the best cross-border shipping solution, especially in the developing countries in the region”.

At the end of the day, retailers and those in the technology space know that implementation is much harder than planning. Therefore, although Baldo is confident, customers will have to wait and see what the brand actually delivers to them.