​The shoe with a good soul: TOMS’ innovations for philanthropic engagement

The footwear brand reveals the digital strategy and technology driving its global, community vision

TOMS footwear brand is leveraging digital innovation not only to engage its customers and sell products, but to also give back to the community.

Launched in 2006, and named after the abbreviation of ‘tomorrow’, TOMS runs on an ethical concept that when you buy a pair of shoes, the company gives a pair of shoes to people in need for a better future.

“We’re really a giving company that achieves our goals of giving through sales,” TOMS’ senior manager of email and loyalty, Randy Yasenchak, said during a presentation at this year’s Salesforce Dreamforce conference. “It really is wonderful and it is what has brought us to where we are today.”

In more recent years, TOMS evolved its business model to eyewear. Every purchase of a pair of eyewear sunglasses or optical by a customer provides sight assistance to people in need.

“This is about surgery, prescriptions, glasses, and things of that nature than can help people see for the very first time,” he said. “It is a really powerful and moving part of our giving model.”

In 2014, the brand evolved even further into selling coffee. For every sale, TOMS gives a bag of supplies to people all over the world who desperately need the help. Most recently, the brand launched a bag line, so for every bag sold, helps provide a safer birth for mothers.

“So we’re really all about evolving and giving,” Yasenchak said. “It’s not just about shoes, it really is about making the world a better place.”

But with such fast brand evolution, TOMS attracted a lot more customers and was faced with managing a larger amount of data across multiple streams. That brought the business to Salesforce, initially with the Service Cloud and then most recently, with the vendor’s Marketing Cloud stack, Yasenchak said.

“With all that growth, TOMS had data everywhere,” TOMS’ global vice-president of digital technologies, Hilda Fontana, continued. “From a customer service point of view, it was very difficult to really engage the customer. We had a lot of manual processes but we wanted to put a system in place that was shareable, scalable and help the customer engage and feel part of the TOMS mission. Salesforce Service Cloud really helped us engage and just put it all together so much better.”

Having all data shared across the Service Cloud, Fontana said international offices are now able to share information seamlessly and have a 360-degree view of the customer.

“It allows our customer service agents to really engage with the customer and make them feel a part of the brand, and that we know who they are and what they’ve done with us, how involved they are with us,” she said. “We also have the Sales Cloud, which helps us when we run campaigns with universities and engage a whole different community than just our customers.”

To help manage its customer engagements, TOMS adopted the Marketing Cloud earlier this year. On the email side, the company is utilising the platform to leverage data as it comes in, segment customer groups out and deliver a series of communications that cover the interaction lifecycle.

“It provides us with the opportunity to continue to share our mission with our customer, but to also streamline the technologies so we can start to pull data into one spot where we can actualise the data into really rich customer experiences,” Yasnechak said.

TOMS engages with its customers in a number of ways, including via its loyalty program, TOMS Passport Reward, which launched late last year. Customers get rewarded not just for purchases, but for reading blog content, watching videos and signing up for email listings. Those stamps can be used to redeem traditional rewards but also help support giving partners and organisations it works with to further the good, he said.

“It really provides a great way for us to just engage with our customers and reward them for things they are already doing,” he added.

- Azadeh Williams attended Dreamforce as a guest of Salesforce

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