Shane Lenton, the chief information officer at Cue Clothing Co, sits down with Power Retail to discuss the ever-changing shape of online and in-store clothes shopping in Australia.
The fashion industry isn’t what it used to be, which is a concept that’s all too familiar to the business that has been at the forefront of the Australian fashion scene since 1968 – Cue Clothing Co.
“We danced through disco, rocked the power suits of the ‘80s, embraced ‘90s minimalism, and immersed ourselves in ‘00s luxury. Now, we continue to celebrate what’s new and next,” Lenton says.
Cue first launched its e-commerce website in May 2011, with a version that went live for its Australian consumers, and another that went up for New Zealand shoppers. However, even back then, Cue recognised the value of the international market, which also saw it launch a global website that reportedly services 120 countries with localised currencies, payment and language options.
“When visiting our website from either Australia or New Zealand, we auto select the closest store for the user, with stock availability dynamically updated to reflect fulfilment options from both the online stock holding and also that of their closest stores,” he says.
Lenton also says that Cue doesn’t view its online and in-store offerings as separate businesses, rather, it’s a “unified channel” that underpins its retail strategy. This is reflected in the company’s shipping and customer experience strategies, among others.
Shipping and Fulfilment
Fast shipping that ensures customers get what they want when they want it, is the driving force behind Cue’s approach to order fulfilment.
“Our strategy is to buy anywhere, fill anywhere, and encompasses our endless aisle solutions across all of the businesses touch points, including our 30-minute click and collect service.
“We have also recently introduced three-hour delivery from all stores (excluding six) across Australia, and offer our customers the flexibility of split orders when buying online, in-store or from our customer care team,” Lenton says.
According to Lenton, this approach has been developed to ensure a seamless and straightforward shopping experience for consumers who want to make one transaction, regardless of how many items they might be ordering or where they are coming from.
The promise of three-hour delivery across the country also links into the businesses omnichannel strategy, as Cue refers to every store as a form of distribution centre to fulfil its “store to door” philosophy.
“Store to door is becoming a big part of what we do at Cue, providing our customers with access to the entire inventory across all stores and our online fulfilment centre.
“Items can be purchased regardless of their location and customers can choose to either collect the items from a store or have them delivered same-day or with standard delivery; depending on the location of the inventory and the customer’s delivery address. These options are all presented to the customer in real-time,” Lenton says.
Cue also works with Shippit, so goods can be delivered quickly, without costing a fortune.
Other Omnichannel Initiatives
Lenton re-iterates Cue’s “unified” approach to commerce, citing the company’s frictionless shopping experience from desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, as well as in-store and via its integrated customer care team”.
“Examples of this are that we were one of the first brands to launch with Afterpay online, while also offering a fully integrated refund solution in our physical stores for online returns. [We were also] the first to offer Afterpay as a payment option in-store,” he says.
Cue has also reportedly created a unified shopping experience by offering in-store PayPal refunds for any goods purchased through the payment gateway online.
As with most online retailers, Cue has a customer loyalty program in place. However, Lenton believes Cue’s technological innovation and cross-platform experience ensures Cue’s strategy for engaging customers and encouraging repeat purchases is ahead of the flock.
“We have a CRM and loyalty solution with a full API integration that links with our website in real-time. We don’t do anything in batches or uploads; it’s all direct through API.”
Through this system, Lenton says customers can view their full transaction history, member benefits, status and track their spend and reward benefits all in real-time. This can be done in-store through the company’s POS system, Zendesk, or online from a desktop or mobile device.
Cue also operates its customer service centre a little differently to standard bricks-and-mortar retailers, as when a consumer makes an enquiry either via phone or the businesses live chat integration on its website, they will also be presented with the opportunity to make a purchase.
“With our buy anywhere, fill anywhere solution, when a customer makes a product enquiry, we are able to give them the option to make the purchase via click and collect, standard or three-hour national delivery.”
The Technology Involved With Creating a Successful Omnichannel Experience
Any e-commerce strategy is only as good as the technology driving it. According to Lenton, Cue’s unified commerce platform operates with Triquestra, which includes state-of-the-art POS, retail management, inventory and pricing tech. The company also utilises everything from loyalty software to order orchestration and click and collect technology.
“This one core platform allows ease of management when it comes to managing inventory, pricing, orders and fulfilment, as well as sales attribution,” Lenton says.
“We also have a bespoke website built with .Net that is fully integrated into the Infinity Unified Commerce platform via API.”
Cue also reportedly uses Foyerlive shoppable screens solution in its stores, to create a seamless transition between its online and bricks-and-mortar offerings, and uses Zendesk as its integrated customer service platform.
“Our customer care team uses Zendesk, which has been integrated via API with infinity to provide a single view of our customers.”
Lenton also says that Cue works with Emarsys to arrange its marketing automation activities, facilitating the brand’s communication with customers for both transactional and marketing purposes. According to Lenton, this provider gives Cue access to customer recommendations via machine learning and AI across both in-store and online customer journeys.
Key Outcomes From Working Within an Omnichannel Landscape
Cue has invested a lot of time and effort into developing its omnichannel strategy, but has it proven to be worthwhile? According to Lenton, it definitely has.
“Since turning on click and collect and store to door, this has resulted in growth in incremental sales, as well as an uplift in sales from driving more online customers into stores.
“We have seen our physical store footprint around the country create a competitive advantage by turning stores into distribution centres, so we can get our products to our loyal customers in the fastest, most cost-effective way possible, regardless of their location,” Lenton says.
Despite being a large fashion manufacturer, Lenton says the business has also had a positive response to its refusal to mass produce.
“Every store doesn’t get every style, however, we now give our customers access to every style regardless of how or where they choose to shop with us.”
According to Lenton, Cue’s omnichannel business has been successful because of its adoption of personalisation, fast delivery methods, and of course, the brand’s willingness and speed of adopting changing retail technologies to effectively keep up with consumer demand.