Retailer Bonobos listens closely to customers and rewards some of the best

February 22, 2016 02:43 PM

With competition increasing for customers’ loyalty and dollars, online men’s apparel retailer Bonobos is pushing its team to pay more attention to its customers.

“We’re doing user testing once a month, we’re doing surveys once a month, we’re doing polls probably once a month,” says Dominique Essig, Bonobos’ vice president of product management and customer experience. “I’m really trying to reinforce to my team to also do more guerrilla testing, so sit in a Starbucks and ask customers how they feel.”

That message, of not only listening to your customers but creating one-of-a-kind experiences so they continue to shop your brand, was central to Essig’s keynote Monday in the UX, Merchandising, and Design Summit on 360-degree customer optimization at the annual eTail West conference in Palm Springs, Calif.

“(Customers) can have a relationship with any brand,” she told attendees. “What you want is for them to have a relationship with your brand. It’s about creating connections. Why do they care about you? Why do they give you their money versus somebody else?”

Essig says 80% of Bonobos’ shoppers are in the 25-40 age range, with 60% earning more than $100,000 per year. Bonobos began by selling exclusively online, but in recent years has opened 20 “guideshops” around the country where men can try on clothing and place online orders.

One of the ways that Bonobos, No. 270 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, connects with shoppers and keeps them coming back for more is through its #CustomerDelight program, wherein one of its customer service “ninjas” will identify a shopper who could have a high lifetime value to the retailer and provide them with an additional, personalized perk.

Last year, the retailer delivered 30 such “delights,” and one interaction between a customer service agent named Etienne and a shopper named Dustin stood out to Essig.

“Our team lead, Etienne, was having a great interaction with Dustin,” she told attendees. “They started talking about the fact that Dustin was going to be visiting New York for the first time. So Etienne sent him a care package (with New York-themed items), and it really made Dustin feel special.”

Essig wouldn’t specify how agents identify customers who will receive #CustomerDelights promotions, saying only that it’s data-driven and targeted toward “top-tier” customers.

“It’s important to think about your customer lifetime value now as well as the predicted lifetime value of the customer,” she says.

Such attention to detail likely has contributed to Bonobos’ growth over the past five years. data shows Bonobos has grown at a rate of 75.30% during that period to an Internet Retailer-estimated $85 million in sales in 2014 from $9 million in 2010.

New retailers pop up every day aiming to emulate Bonobos’ physical showrooms that drive online sales, Essig says, so the key to continued growth is not just paying attention to customers’  needs but staying nimble.

“If you sit back and relax and think that you’re just coasting, that’s not a recipe for success,” she says. “It’s about listening to what our customers say. Using the data is important, but it’s not just about analytics, it’s about the voice-over that comes with it. Sometimes it’s just pausing to ask your customer what’s important.”




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