The Iconic: becoming customer-focused transformed the business

The Iconic's mission is to liberate the customer

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Becoming a more customer-focused organisation has been one of the best things to ever happen to The Iconic, said COO of the online fashion retailer, Anna Lee.

Speaking at the Online Retailer conference in Sydney, Lee said "liberating the customer" has been critical to The Iconic’s successful transition from a start-up e-commerce online retailer to an organisation focused on technology, fashion and innovation.

“Our mission is customer liberation. This is understanding the customer’s emotional journey when they buy apparel – it’s not just buying clothes, it’s an expression of the individual,” Lee said.

“When someone buys something, there’s an emotional attachment. It’s not just transactional, so understanding what the emotional journey is for the customer has been critical for us.”

Of course, along with this is ensuring the customer’s online experience is excellent and, as Lee explained, The Iconic developed its own website technology to ensure this.

“Our key touchpoint is online, it’s important that can’t be underestimated,” she said.

“There is nothing worse than a clunky site. We don’t have a physical presence. The way we interact with customers is purely based on the trust we provide to them. We don’t underestimate when and how our product arrives, as it’s a critical part of honouring our promise to our customers.”

At only seven years old, The Iconic has grown 50 per cent year-on-year over the last few years, and last year moved to a bigger dispatch warehouse in Yennora.

This move saw them grow from 12,000 square metres of space to 20,000 square metres, housing around 2 million items. Next year, the business will also move into the neighbouring space, adding another 40 per cent.

Even more impressive is the fulfilment centre runs on a 99.8 per cent on time dispatch.

“We only allow a 0.2 per cent tolerance of late delivery. We work closely with our delivery partners to identify issues and help work to a solution with them. We are not just handing it over and hoping something will be delivered on time, it’s a partnership,” Lee said.

The Iconic takes a similar partnership approach with its brands.

“We build relationships with our sellers, and work in a partnership with them. Of course, they can have their challenges. At any time, it’s difficult for us to hold a 99.8 per cent on time dispatch, and it’s expensive. We can’t always expect our sellers will be able to do that, but whenever brands have some challenges, we work with them towards a solution. We have close to 1000 brands on our marketplace, and we don’t want to lose brands our customers’ love, so we're making sure we're working together. It's a challenge.”

As for customer metrics, The Iconic delivers monthly details of Net Promoter Score (NPS) reports to every employee of the company, so everyone knows what the NPS is. The scores usually hover around the high 80s.

“We don’t have the luxury in this retail market of being arrogant players, we just need to focus on our values and ensure the product is there for our customer,” Lee said.

“We do a lot of experiments regarding what our customers need. If you ask the customers what they want, of course, they are going to ask for something that can be quite biased. Our customers range in age from 18-80, and different customers have different needs. We do a lot of testing; we have about 100 data scientists constantly testing and experimenting with different groups of customers about what they actually want.

“We have to balance what they say, versus how they actually behave. It’s dangerous to offer everything a customer wants, because there are commercial realities. And customers are willing to trade-off things depending on their needs.

“We have to remain price competitive, but we offer a different delivery service as well.”

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