The dangers of scaling too fast
Denim giant, Lucky Brand Jeans is striving to bring all of their verticals and pieces of its business together onto one platform. The jean giant sells direct to consumer on their e-commerce site and nearly 300 retail locations as well as distributing through a large retail network to stores like Macy’s and Nordstroms. Lucky Brand chose to use Netsuite OneWorld to for its ability to run a variety of omnichannel business processes across all of its operations.
Lucky Brand is also using Bronto (a Netsuite company) to run their marketing automation.
The commitment to these cloud solutions was a big step towards creating a single data repository with a cloud-based infrastructure to enable Lucky brand to scale efficiently.
That’s great, right?
Well, not necessarily. Choosing the best tools is a step in the process. Creating efficiencies in processes is just one of the goals. A retail brand must keep in mind that one thing matters above all others. Not matter how optimized the database is, the pipeline, the marketing, the reporting, the analytics, etc… one can’t overlook the most important piece of the sales process to a retail brand. The customer and that customers user experience.
I don’t do this often but I’m going to draw upon a personal experience to illustrate just how a big brand like Lucky can lose sight of the forrest for the trees.
This morning I received an email from Lucky Brand. I’ve never before received and email from Lucky Brand and coincidently (doubtful) I had planned to go to their store yesterday to buy a new pair of jeans. I never made it.
While I’m not interested in joining their mailing list, I already know I want a new pair of jeans and they offer a 50% discount code for a pair of jeans even without opting in to their newsletter. Let’s think about that for a second. I’ve never given Lucky my email so clearly they’ve paid for a list and they’ve got one shot to convert as many of those email addresses into customers. I would say that an opt-in is probably the highest conversion value in this campaign. An Opt-in + sale is icing on the cake. But Lucky provides a nice hook for those that don’t want to opt-in and they avoid offending at the same time. The 50% discount offer is great strategy! Hat tip to the campaign manager.
I went to the Lucky site and immediately started browsing jeans. I found the navigation very inconsistent. On some categories the Jean nav was persistent, on other jean categories, the jean nav disappeared and/or expanded/contracted. There was really no rhyme or reason as to when the left nav remained persistent [or not].
With expanded nav:
Without expanded nav:
Some of the jean category navs would actually take me to a search results page that would tell me my search produced no results.
To add a little context from a shopper perspective, this would be like walking into a Lucky store and going to the jeans section. Start browsing some relaxed fit jeans and decide you would like to compare them to the bootcut jeans and maybe the straight cut jeans as well. But wait, where are the bootcut? Oh they’re across the store up by the front door… hmm strange. Walk to the front door and realize pretty quickly the bootcut are not what you’re looking for. Fairly certain now that you’re going to go for the relaxed cut so head back over to where they were. Wait, they’ve moved! Let’s go find a sales person and have them get us what we want.
I did finally decide on some jeans but I was already a bit put off by the UX. I got to the cart page and continued to the checkout page where I’m used to seeing the “add promo code”. But wait, there’s no where to add the code. So I click the chat (grab that sales person again) button. They let me know that it is [discretely] placed at the bottom right of the cart page. I locate it and not only is it subtle but it requires a click to enter the code. Any UX designer knows that when a customer is checking out, the eye stops at the checkout options/buttons. So this was either an oversight by an junior UX designer (very unlikely) or an intentional placement with the hopes of making it a little more difficult to use that discount code. But why?
Ok, so now that I’ve filled out all my checkout/shipping info, I go back and enter the code. Then I come back and re-fill out the checkout info. I click “checkout” and nothing happens. I click it multiple times. Nothing happens. I start checking fields. There are no indications that any fields are incomplete. Since I use Auto fill for my payment info, I check each field and as it turns out, the checkout is looking for first and last name in one field. This always causes issues with auto fill because it will just put the first name and not the last name. But there was no validation or error message. Just a screen that wouldn’t allow me to submit my order. I figured this out because I architect these systems every day but I would guess that most web shoppers would not have gone through the trouble of identifying the problem.
I’ve never bought anything from the Lucky Brand website before. Don’t they want me to have a good experience and become a long term, repeat customer? I’m sure they do but as I said above, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the forrest for the trees. In this case, there are so many systems in place, so many parts to be managed, so many shiny new tools to make the system run so smoothly. Problem is with all the attention these shiny new tools require, they’ve lost sight of the customer experience. When brands implement automation software and Marketing AI to customize the messaging to the customers, the customers really get a sense that the brand knows them. And they appreciate that. It’s a unique experience to feel like a brand knows when to contact you, what you need and how exactly to entice you to take the next step. But letting the marketing experience feel so right when the sales experience feels so clumsy is a certain recipe for failure. Ok, failure may be a strong word but if the goal is to put the customer experience first, what else should we call it? I’m still trying to find the brand that nails it from first touch to final click. When I do, I certainly will give them their kudos.