An aspirational Instagram post. An inspired, ready-to-purchase customer. This is what marketers strive for, but what happens when the enthusiastic customer visits the website to find their desired item—that they just saw posted a second ago—is out of stock?
While it’s a marketer’s job to get people excited about their brand, they’re not helping anyone if customers are getting excited about the right item at the wrong time. It’s critical that marketing and operations align early and often in order to reduce inventory risk, especially in busy seasons where inventory is constantly changing.
To succeed the chaos of any busy season or popular promotion, brands must empower communication while enabling clear processes between marketing and operations.
One brand that’s doing this particularly well? Women’s luxury shoe brand, Freda Salvador. In a webinar with Shopify Plus last week, our VP of Marketing, Thomas Marks, spoke with Hannah Munce, responsible for all things marketing at Freda Salvador.
Here are our top three takeaways from the webinar:
- An organization can only move as fast as its slowest part
Today’s customers are empowered and have ever-growing expectations from retailers. Customer support teams can easily become overwhelmed if they’re not given advanced notice of special promotions or merchandising efforts. When operations can’t move quickly enough to support these marketing initiatives, the customer experience crumbles. Through efficient and frequent communication, the Freda Salvador team ensures they’re never promoting a shoe that’s already flying off the shelves. Recently, they pulled a brand new shoe from all marketing materials as it had quickly sold out in most sizes. Had the operations team not caught this, or had the marketing team not been receptive and quick to move, many customers would have been disappointed when they were unable to purchase their dream shoe they had just seen on Instagram.
- Today’s retail landscape is all about the experience
One of the Freda team’s goals is to show the consumer that they’re much more than a footwear brand. Through their mobile shoe trailer, in-store events, and collaborations with other brands, Freda Salvador is everywhere their customer is. But, this obviously creates operational challenges. With Stitch Labs, the team can quickly see what inventory they have and where they have it, so even if a customer can’t buy her dream pair of shoes immediately in the trailer, the team can let her know if they’re in stock elsewhere and still make the sale.
- Plan ahead
It may sound obvious, but the key to empowering the relationship between marketing and operations is minimizing fire drills. Freda’s marketing and operations teams have a weekly meeting to go over inventory levels and adjust schedules accordingly. The marketing team also plans ahead with their celebrity PR team to ensure they don’t sell out of a shoe unexpectedly when a celebrity shares a picture wearing a certain style. While creativity is often spontaneous, in the retail industry, it’s important to plan ahead as much as possible while also retaining flexibility. In order to stay flexible, look into a technology stack that can support agile operational workflows. This image shows Freda Salvador’s workflows that allow their teams to see inventory levels in real-time and know what they have, where and when they have it.
Especially as brands and retailers gear up for the holiday season, it’s important to think about the relationship between marketing and operations. You’re likely gearing up for a big marketing push, and maybe even special offers or promotions, so now’s as good a time as any to take a look at these two departments and make sure they’re working together as efficiently as possible.
For more tips from Freda Salvador, you can find the recorded webinar here.
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- How Retailers Can Graduate From Tracking to Managing Inventory - September 13, 2017
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