Leading investor and serial entrepreneur J. Christopher Burch has more than 30 years of experience in various technology and luxury brands, including Aliph (Jawbone), NextJump, and Tory Burch. At a talk given at the Asia Fashion Summit recently, he shared about his experience with C. Wonder – a fast growing apparel, accessories and home décor retailer, and how he built a strong retail brand focused heavily on delighting customers and meeting their lifestyle needs.
Predicated on the concept of the customer being “our girl”, the customer experience in C. Wonder stores are predicated on “service credos” such as the following:
n style=”color: red;”>♥ Our Girl… She Comes First
– We want to make her feel good
– We want to do special things to celebrate her
– We want her to feel welcome and appreciated
– We want to provide a comfortable environment – from the fitting rooms to the rest rooms
– We want to surprise her
– We want to make her feel loved
– We want her to know that we’ll do anything to make her feel comfortable
With the comfort and welfare of the customer firmly in the centre of the brand, C. Wonder aspires to build “the most beautiful bathrooms in the world”. J. Christopher shared that this was important as the bathrooms often exert a significant influence on a customer’s impression of a store. Adequate seats complete with free WIFI are also provided so that men accompanying their girlfriends or wives can sit around and play their iPads while waiting.
Through beautifully designed spacious stores that feature specially selected music and the serving of cookies and lemonade to customers, C. Wonder makes it a point to make customers feel right at home. In some of their stores, they even have staff dancing to the music with their customers, to the music of professional DJs being hired to create the right mood.
In J. Christopher’s own words, C. Wonder is about “fun, excitement and great value”.
To ensure that the needs of consumers are adequately met, C. Wonder makes it a point to involve their sales staff in the design of stores as they are most intimately engaged with consumers on a daily basis. Tapping onto their deep knowledge of consumer preferences is key as the brand seeks to shift its focus from retailing products to selling a lifestyle.
C. Wonder’s obsession with customer service is so extreme that sales personnel are compensated based on the level of customer service and happiness provided as opposed to the sales generated. In fact, they “don’t want customers to buy too much or to go into credit card debt” as this would mean that they failed to care for their customers (aka “our girl”).
On the road ahead, J. Christopher shared that retail brands in the future need to ensure that they leverage on the following elements in building a successful business:
1) Integrating their brands into reality shows or other elements of brand exposure.
2) Leveraging extensively on media relations and targeted advertising tailored to their customers. This would increasingly include social media channels.
3) Designing stores that are warm and interesting, with music and other elements of comfort.
4) Having good sourcing channels that can help them enjoy the right margins in the hyper-competitive retail market.
5) Identifying with the lifestyle of the customer – from the moment she wakes to the point she falls asleep
It is interesting to learn how J. Christopher built C. Wonder into a premium lifestyle retail brand that sells a lifestyle experience as opposed to mere products. The store’s emphasis on pampering service and customer oriented design can be seen in all the little touches which showed that it cared for its customers.
I would be delighted if retailers in Singapore would one day embrace this notion of truly caring for their customers beyond just making a quick sale or two.