Although Frank & Oak started as an online-only business, CEO Ethan Song never considered it to be strictly an e-Commerce company.
“We always wanted to find ways to connect with our customers whether it was online, via mobile or physically,” Song said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Despite having a loyal base of 1.6 million online members across the U.S. and Canada, Frank & Oak found a store to be an important component of its relationships with consumers. By Nov. 13, 2014, Frank & Oak opened its first flagship store in Toronto.
“We are always looking at where our customer is so it felt natural for us to choose Toronto as the location for our store,” Song said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our store really reflects the overall brand experience as it’s a combination of content and personal service.”
For example, in addition to selling a variety of products, the Frank & Oak store includes a coffee shop and barbershop. “For us, the brand story is about creating a space for entrepreneurs and young creative,” Song said. “We wanted to create a store where people can hang out, which is why we incorporated these important lifestyle elements.”
To make the brick-and-mortar experience even more interactive and compelling, Frank & Oak has rolled out the tablet solution from Tulip Retail, which provides a suite of sales associate mobility tools.
“We knew Tulip from the tech community in Canada,” Song explained. “We really wanted to offer a personalized service and having a mobile solution is the core of it. So when we were looking for a solution it felt natural to speak to Tulip.”
Enriching The Customer Experience
Using the Tulip platform, Frank & Oak Style Advisors are empowered with a wealth of information and resources to drive omnichannel sales. They have access to an enhanced product catalog that touts detailed product information and inventory levels; customer profiles that highlight purchase history and available store credit; and POS capabilities so they can complete in-store and e-Commerce transactions anywhere in the store.
“Frank & Oak has millions of fans who have already purchased from the brand and are familiar with it,” said Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail. “Our challenge was to build a customer experience for loyal shoppers and newcomers equally simple and enriching as they shop the Frank & Oak store. We know that consumers expect continuity in their shopping experience as they shop online and in-stores. Frank & Oak is one of the first retailers to pull off a truly omnichannel experience.”
Now, Style Advisors have access to information on who the customer is, which helps them provide better service, according to Song. “The full customer profile and past purchase history of the customer allows our Style Advisors to give personalized recommendations. And the fact that we have a mobile solution allows us to move away from the cash counter, which makes the relationship with the customer much more organic.”
Frank & Oak will refer to sales data as well as customer and employee feedback to determine the overall impact of the mobile solution.
“Our employees are a vital part of the integrated experience and their feedback is key,” Song noted. To capture associate engagement and ensure buy-in, the retailer needed to “make sure that our Style Advisors understood the vision and the experience that we want to create. It’s also about giving them the proper training to make sure that the tools are fully exploited.”
Tulip plans to actively support the Frank & Oak team by training associates when new stores open by “visiting them in-store to answer questions and gather feedback,” Asaria said. “This is one of the hidden factors that ensure we are successful in our work together.”