I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Retail is in a state of chaos right now. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing, because where there’s chaos, there’s also mountains of opportunity. The key is to run toward that opportunity, as those brands that face the challenge head on will come out on top.
What Today’s State of Retail Means for the Industry’s Future
The current state of retail proves an interesting study, as there are numerous factors — not just the force of Amazon — that are causing the chaos we face today. For instance, we’re also facing repercussions from the 2008-09 recession and the decline of shopping malls, among several other factors.
Nevertheless, Amazon’s market domination has proven to be the topic du jour and one of the biggest humps that retailers need to overcome. But whether it’s Amazon or not, there will always be something new that comes along and challenges the industry.
With that in mind, to create a brand with staying power, you need to be prepared to weather any new challenge that might come your way. Preparing for that requires embracing an agile method of working, making sure your team has tools that allow them to remain agile, building teams around larger company objectives and keeping people on the ground flexible so they can react to whatever might come their way.
How Jockey International Weathers Change (for 140 Years and Counting)
For proof of how brands that prepare to weather any new challenge are those that are best poised to succeed, look no further than the 140-year-old brand Jockey International.
Here’s the thing about Jockey: They sell underwear, and people can buy underwear literally anywhere. Jockey knows underwear — it invented the tube sock and the men’s brief — but in a fragmented retail world, Jockey faces the same challenge as everyone else when it comes to getting shoppers to buy their brand.
Despite this challenge, Jockey has stayed at the top of the underwear market for 140 years. It’s secret? Innovation.
Jockey has always been an innovator (it did shape the underwear industry as we know it after all), and in 2017 it continues to push the envelope, especially with digital marketing.
How Data Drives Innovation for Jockey
Today, data sits at the heart of Jockey’s innovation. Perhaps that statement isn’t mind-blowing (who doesn’t talk about data these days?), but how Jockey approaches data and innovation is unique. Specifically, Jockey pays close attention to:
- How data is collected
- What data is collected
- The real-time nature of data
- Understanding data
The last point — understanding data — is really the piece that brings it all together. Collecting data well and having the right data is one thing, but understanding data and acting on that insight has proven the biggest boon for Jockey. Because once the team has that understanding, they can truly get to know their customers, and they can then use that knowledge to launch exciting new ideas and programs that build loyalty and keep customers coming back.
How Jockey Goes from Understanding Data to Taking Action
Once Jockey has real-time customer and catalog data in hand along with a strong understanding of it, that’s when the real fun begins. Among the many ideas that Jockey has pulled from its robust data, one of the most interesting is a subscription program.
Jockey noticed that subscription programs seem to be popular among startups but that they haven’t really taken off with established companies. It also recognized patterns of repeat purchasers in its customer and catalog data, and it put two and two together to realize that a subscription program could be the perfect fit for its brand.
Upon coming to this conclusion, the “why” was clear for Jockey: Disrupt themselves before someone else does. Jockey believes the subscription service offers a new way to exceed customer expectations, and they want to be the first to offer this innovative experience in their industry.
That left the “how,” and for Jockey the answer of how to bring a subscription program to life lies in the data. Specifically, Jockey uses data at every step of the way to understand which customers are prime candidates and the products in which they’re interested. And throughout it all, Jockey keeps customers in the fold with re-engagement email triggers.
Innovation is All About the Mindset — And the Data
Jockey’s 140 years and counting of success comes down to both its mindset and its use of data. The team’s advice to others?
- Make sure your team has the ability to aggregate data so they can take action on it
- Test, test and test again
- Empower your team with tools and structure that allow them to remain agile no matter what happens in the market
With that mindset and the right technology and partners in place, the century-old, Wisconsin-based Jockey has all the same advantages as the newest players coming out of Silicon Valley.