U.S. apparel icon Abercrombie & Fitch marked its one-year anniversary on Tmall by partnering with the Alibaba Group-owned B2C shopping site on a special online-offline event in China.
Livestreamed on Tmall, the celebration was held at an Abercrombie location in Shanghai and included an appearance by Chinese actor Johnny Huang. Huang partnered with Abercrombie on a limited-edition collection that was available at the event and sold exclusively on Tmall.
For consumers, it was a chance to explore the store, meet Huang in person and engage with New Retail features that are quickly becoming integral to the shopping experience in China, such as the Magic Mirror.
Alizila caught up with Stacia Andersen, brand president of Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie kids, to find out more about the event and the company’s journey on Tmall so far.
What are a few of the biggest takeaways from this past year selling on Tmall? What have you learned about Chinese consumers, consumer engagement, trends in apparel, New Retail?
It has been a very successful first year for A&F on Tmall. The platform provides us with a great opportunity for our global brand, as we look to connect with our customers whenever, wherever and however they choose to shop. We are focused on providing engaging experiences with our customers around the world, and our partnership with Tmall allows just that. We know Chinese consumers are at the forefront of digital engagement and are interested in experiencing brands through livestreams, online KOLs, social media and online TV series, all of which are integrated and accessible to us within Tmall’s ecosystem.
Speaking of New Retail, you created this really exciting online-offline event for the Tmall anniversary. Where did the idea come from and can you talk some of the “activations” you promoted?
Yes, we did host an exciting event in our Shanghai store to celebrate the one-year anniversary. We partnered with, Johnny Huang, an impressive Chinese actor, who is a big fan of A&F and has great alignment to our customer base.
In the spirit of our A&F brand, built on adventure and exploration, we worked with Tmall’s “The Ideal Life Club,” which is a marketing campaign that allows us to focus on everyday adventure through unique in-store activations. The event, which was livestreamed on Tmall, included a meet & greet with Johnny Huang and various activations encouraging attendees to step out of their comfort zone and seek adventure. For example, we had an ice-cream stand in-store, serving up unique flavors, such as wasabi and chili, a pop-up salon where customers were encouraged to try a different hair style and a Magic Mirror, an alternate reality mirror, which allowed guests to virtually outfit themselves in A&F products.
What other ways have you put New Retail strategies and technologies to work over the past year?
We put the customer at the center of everything we do and look to engage with them whenever, wherever and however they choose to shop. We’ve invested heavily in omnichannel capabilities to help provide a seamless customer experience and are implementing some of these aspects in the China market already. For example, we’ve recently launched “ship from store” on our local China site, and we plan to explore other areas of omni.
Have there been any offline innovations you’ve pushed through as a result of what you’ve learned by selling through Tmall? Maybe your product selection, digital touchpoints in the store or something else?
We’ve enabled digital payments using Alipay and digital invoicing in our offline stores. By studying shopping behavior on our Tmall flagship store, we are able to better optimize our merchandise mix for our Chinese customers.
How has your relationship to Chinese consumers changed since joining Tmall? Has the platform been able to help you better understand your target demographic? If so, have adapted your strategies to suit those insights? How?
Tmall has provided us with insights that have allowed us to better understand our customers in terms of demographics, preference and purchasing behavior. This information shapes our strategies for various aspects of our business, such as merchandising, inventory planning and marketing. For example, we’ve seen a strong preference among our Tmall customers for styles that are less fit-specific items, since they don’t have the option to try on before purchasing online. Insights like this help us optimize our merchandise mix to deliver a better digital experience for the local customer.
What are your plans for 11.11?
We had an extremely successful Singles Day in 2017, exceeding our targets by more than 20%, and we’re excited it will be here again soon. We are finalizing details and can share when ready!
Lastly, the sales numbers. Would it be possible to get more specific figures? For example, how many total tickets were sold? How many Johnny Huang jackets and t-shorts were sold? How many livestream viewers were there? How many total orders?
Our recent event was extremely successful, with A&F sales on Tmall in the first 23 minutes exceeding the whole day sales on launch day last year. In addition, we were excited to see that tickets sold out within the first minutes of the event, and our limited-edition collection with Johnny Huang was sold out within 10 minutes after going live. The livestream of the event saw four times the number of live views on launch day, and we saw great traction on our mobile channel, with 95% of orders coming through that platform.