Cotton On’s E-Commerce Relaunch Nets 50% Sales Growth YoY

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Katharina Pohl, Cotton On Group's Head of Marketing (Asia) has helped Cotton On Group increase online sales by 50% year on year and reach 265,702 Instagram users through an online and offline campaign.

Retailers are realising the immense opportunities that e-commerce offers. Cotton On is one of them. The company has 1400 stores in 17 countries, and is now making e-commerce a key priority.

Says Pohl, "Since relaunching our e-commerce platform in 2014, online sales have increased 50% year on year. Our existing e-commerce platform in the region currently services Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. To reach more customers in the region's multi-billion dollar e-commerce market, we have recently partnered with online platform, Zalora."

Traditional media, especially print, is still important in the region, but there seems to be a shift from many companies towards digital. And retailers are successfully integrating both offline and online marketing.

Cotton On tried something fun during the Chinese New Year. "We developed a campaign in major shopping malls across Singapore and on Instagram. Promoters dressed up as monkeys "going bananas" with our customers who then shared their "Cotton On Monkey Business" on Instagram. Over the three-week campaign, 1,355 individual posts were uploaded with the #CNYCottonOnSG on Instagram, reaching an estimated 265,702 unique Instagram users," shared Pohl.

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Cotton On just received two Marketing Events Awards from Marketing Magazine for this campaign: Best Event Retail and Best Marketing Guerrilla Stunt.

Asian consumers have been exposed to multiple sales tactics that seem to use ever lower prices as baits. And brands are facing challenged to build brand loyalty online without resorting to heavy discounts. Here, communication plays an important role. Says Pohl, "We segment our messages per target audience to ensure we communicate with the customer in the right way, showing them products relevant for them. For certain events in the year we create capsule collections for the Asian market such as Ramadan or Chinese New Year. For the year of the monkey, we designed and produced a capsule collection with 140 options, exclusively available in Asia. Some styles sold out within a few days of the launch."

She adds, "We try to remove anything that could interrupt the flow of the online shopping journey. Enabling multiple payment options is another critical success factor. Enabling this seamless experience requires vigorous A/B split testing, excellent copy and optimised site layout and browser compatibility. Ultimately, it's all about understanding the customer journey and ensuring that the acquisition channels are driving traffic to the most appropriate pages."

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As we mentioned in our last issue, brick-and-mortar sales in many leading Asian countries has slowed down. Singapore is one such market. This makes it even more important for retailers to have an online presence, and more importantly to make up for the shortfall in physical sales.

Says Pohl, "One of our focus is on understanding the mix between marketing channels and how they contribute to the overall conversion rate like key times of day and certain days of week on which we can maximise our conversion rate. We are looking into the behavior of new vs. returning customers, use search traffic information and overlay this with paid search activity. One of our findings is that through paid search activities new customers convert at a slightly lower conversion rate and lower average order value than returning customers. In order to drive acquisition of customers through free activities and email channels, we normally exclude returning customers as well as customers who have previously engaged with us via email, through the use of segmented lists and via exclusion matching when applying paid search actions.

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Furthermore, we are customising our messaging by building audience types and are monitoring the audience behavior by device, including cross-device tracking. The goal is a seamless customer journey across channels that is on brand and will maximise the shopping experience, irrespectively on where this begins – mobile, desktop, tablet or in-store.  

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