Smooth sailing with a resilient eCommerce strategy: An interview with Corinne Noca at SLAM
SLAM, the renowned sportswear brand loved by sailors, has accelerated forward with an omnichannel marketing strategy specifically geared towards new consumer buying habits. Despite the ongoing disruption to traditional business activity, the company is quickly adapting to smart working practices and prioritising excellent customer service so it can weather the storm created by the global pandemic.
Jennifer Puzzo, Head of Client Services at Kooomo sat down with Corinne Noca, SLAM’s eCommerce manager, to find out how the company responded to the initial period of social, economic and health emergency and what actions it is taking to deal with a crisis that has affected the entire global community.
Corrine talked about her attitude to the situation: “If you had told me that a global pandemic would have broken out in March 2020 and that the world would have had to face a new health, economic, political and social emergency never seen before, I think I would have believed it. I always believed in the predictions of Nostradamus or the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. “Emergency” means unexpected circumstance – something you didn’t foresee and for this reason you have to review how you handle everything when it arises. This is not just about our work and the company, as we cannot fail to talk about the personal life of each employee.”
Corinne draws our attention to a matter of fact in both the private and in the professional sphere. This is not simply a disruption to our daily lives; it is actually helping to drive the development of a resilient and adaptive mindset. It is also about having the capabilities to face any unexpected challenges with speed, creativity and without neglecting the mental and physical well-being of yourself and your colleagues. The COVID-19 emergency has further accentuated SLAM’s company values, which for years have led to specific process, communication and relationship choices for its employees and customers.
Corrine explained: “Like many, wherever it has been possible, smart working has been implemented and I have been smart working for almost ten years since I started in eCommerce. I have always tried, when I was able and when given the opportunity, to work remotely, as I believe that it gives individuals the freedom to balance their personal lives, work tasks and passions.
“Before, companies “controlled” their employees, but now that’s shifted toward checking that the work is done. In addition, employees may also be happier because they are immersed in their own environment. In my case, working with online platforms and tools help me manage my workloads, even in terms of stress. But just because most employees are now working remotely, they should not lose contact with the company, colleagues and their work environment. I personally travel into the office at least one or two times a week, even though it is 125 km away from my home.”
Today, the global community finds itself coexisting with the virus in compliance with established rules of new social and working paradigms. All companies, with the exception of some in the productive and logistics-sectors have made it possible for their employees to smart work remotely.
Corrine clarified: “This means that those who have never been used to agile ways of working are finding themselves having to stay connected and deal with the management of work from their homes for the first time. Since I started work in eCommerce, I have always lived like this and not a day goes by that I do not even look at the phone (even in pre-COVID times) to check orders and customer comments, as our eShop is open 24/7. Despite the initial challenges of staff and operational management, everything is still feasible and the results are perhaps even more immediate.”
She continued: “SLAM’s eCommerce site has experienced continuous growth of over 20% year-on-year over the past three years and during lockdown the online shop never stopped. At the beginning of the emergency, the production of the summer collection had just ended and we had to stop the product photo shoot which started again almost at full capacity as soon as possible. We hope to have the whole collection live on the site by the end of May, considering that Summer 2020 will be lived in a different way than usual and perhaps will last even longer.
“The strategy we pursued was to focus on customer service as a priority. In the first instance, we suspended the discounts and promotions active online so as not to overload the work of our couriers. Little by little, as the situation evolved, we started to discuss new strategies and rethink the future of our online sales promotions. This helps us with sales and also helps people in financial difficulty who can take advantage of the discounts or promotions available on the site.
“The average investments for the whole month of March were kept to a minimum and in order to conserve our budget reserves, we kept focus on the two countries that recognise us the most; Italy and Spain. Despite being most affected by the Coronavirus, Italy and Spain have not stopped interacting with us. They still generate the most turnover online and therefore our investments continued and strengthened after Easter and onwards which enabled our results to return.
“The presence in international markets is also important for the positioning and for the knowledge of our brand, not only in terms of the technical items, but also for the sportswear collection. Through marketplaces we can expand into new unfamiliar areas and these also become additional sales channels
“We are constantly looking to the future, even before we know the official reopening date and have looked at a personal shopper campaign that will start the week before the reopening. This will allow our customers to make a reservation beforehand so they can visit in peace without danger of overcrowding. To overcome the impossibility of trying on garments in the fitting rooms of the store, we have incorporated a size recommendation technology, by Kooomo into our eCommerce platform. In this way, we are able to help our customers to find the right size online by passing their data to the correct department for the fit and creation of our garments.
“As part of this new way to shop, over the past few months we have been talking about the off-line / on-line synergy with Kooomo and Zerogrey. We considered the idea of installing a monitor in the store to give customers the options of having more information about the brand, the clothes and also to buy directly.”
Corrine concluded: “The purchasing and social dynamics continue to change and online shopping is now more affordable for everyone, even those who have never contemplated it before. As I have always said, omnichannel is a necessity and the goal is to ensure that you have a unified system that allows each customer to buy online and possibly pick up in the store, or to see other items and order a garment in the store that is not available. The customer is always at the centre of our business and we will continue to implement more innovative solutions that will increase successful interactions between the brand and the consumer.”