British luxury outerwear retailer, Belstaff, recently took on the difficult task of cleansing its customer data in order to have a better understanding of its customers which shop across different channels. 

Speaking at the Luxury Interactive Europe event in London this week, Alison Conway, VP of client and omnichannel at Belstaff, explained how its retail, eCommerce and wholesale channels all functioned well, but had no interaction with each other. This meant Belstaff could not identify customers shopping across channels. 

“We took a long, hard look at the business,” said Conway, who explained that Belstaff realised it did not understand its customers because its data collection efforts were inconsistent. “In that case, how do you expect to build a relationship and therefore keep them and best please them?”

Belstaff realised its data contained inconsistent addresses and incomplete fields. “In short it was a mess – a bunch of spaghetti strands.”

“We decided we had to take a new approach, so we took a step back and started with what we could control,” said Conway. “We embarked on the mother of all data cleansing exercises which took six months. It was painful, and we ending up with significantly less data, but it was all clean.”

The project began after the 90-year-old retailer was acquired in 2012. It took around two years to complete before Belstaff could begin offering customers personalised offers. 

Conway said while introducing a CRM system took a lot of effort, the retailer benefitted from starting with a clean slate. “It was not easy to implement, but incredibly effective in terms of generating revenue.”

Now the luxury retailer can identify its top 50 customers which it recognised it needed to show “a little bit of love”.

“Before we did nothing for them,” said Conway. “Now we’re rolling out initiatives to show how much we appreciate them.”

Conway described how Belstaff uses the website to drive more footfall to the store, for instance using geo-location technology to promote store locations on a banner ad when customers are shopping online. 

The retailer also personalised offers to specific customers, such as store events or opportunities to book a personal shopping appointment. The retailer even identifed customers who bought motorcycle clothing for a special themed event with The Greasy Hands Preachers at its New York store.

In Milan, the store manager uses the new CRM system to personally email top clients with hand-picked products new to the store.

“Initially he used shots of the product on the website, but that was too impersonal. So the manager uses actual iPhone images and sending them out works really really well, along with a message to let us know if you want us to set anything aside for you.”

Belstaff’s customer retention rate now stands at 14%, while returning targeted customers spend 25% more than they used to, which is 17% more than average.

“But it is stage one of a long journey,” added Conway.