Email is not dead, says Fred Perry

Fred Perry, is using email addresses in order to gain a single view of customers as they shop both in store and online.

The 64-year-old fashion retailer said it is capturing this cross-channel data by offering customers eReceipts when they shop in store. This allows the retailer to match addresses with those customers who also shop online, providing the retailer with a single customer view database. 

Speaking at the SLIConnect event in London this week, Martin Burton, head of eCommerce at Fred Perry, said when it began seriously looking at emails as unique identifiers it realised its data was “in a pretty bad state”.

“We had around 40 different databases floating around and we were totally unclear about permission,” he said. 

Burton said it was very important for the retailer to improve its data gathering, and in turn customer relationships, because Fred Perry does not consider itself a “commercial business” in the traditional sense.

“We’re not looking to grow it by 20% next year, we’re about organic growth and we’re very focused on our customers,” he said. “And we’re nervous about trying to be something we’re not. We don’t sell underwear, jeans, fragrances or sunglasses – we could probably add £20 million to our top line if we stick our logo on something. And while we have a sale twice a year, we don’t do discounts – if we collect your email address we’re not going to give you 10% off for it.”

Fred Perry – which has 135 stores across 30 countries, with plans for another 20 to open in Asia this year – began to consolidate its data which resulted in around 800,000 customer records. “But we had no clear strategy developed for those 800,000 people, our metrics were poor and we had no way of tracking if we sent an email would it influence one person.”

Fred Perry choose to work with Dotmailer to solve these challenges. It started by consolidating its five websites and databases onto the Dotmailer platform as well as a data audit to understand the health of the 800,000 records. 

Burton explained that new EU legislation which will come into practice in the next few years means retailers need to be very certain about the data they have and whether customers want to be engaged via email marketing. He said while Fred Perry never bought customer data, it was not clear where quite a significant proportion of customer information had come from. “It was probably through a store, but there was no single way to tell the data commissioner how we got it.”

After cleaning its database, Fred Perry introduced eReceipts to in-store customers. After a trial in three stores this was rolled out to 32 stores in the UK, Europe and US. 

“When we provided the option of eReceipts, we went from collecting around 100 emails per week, to 3,000. 80% of our customers were choosing eReceipts and if we continue with that, we’ll get 95% of all online and in-store transactions being tracked.”

Burton said while some people have two or three email addresses which could potentially add confusion, most customers use the same email when they want to buy something. “So all of a sudden we have a cross-channel record.”

The next step for Fred Perry is to mine the email data for insight and to measure loyalty. 

“How do I measure loyalty? It’s about those 10 people in Covent garden driving 30% of sales, we can design a bespoke loyalty programme based on that store and that group of people. Rather than a one-size-fits-all costly solution.”

Burton also said the retailer is using its new CRM programme to provide automated functions such as abandon basket alert emails and a birthday programme for customers. 

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