How Asics created an omnichannel vision for better customer centricity

​Moving a legacy brand from being product-centric to customer centric

Moving a legacy brand from being product-centric to customer centric has been no small feat for running shoe brand, Asics. But by embracing the challenge with gusto, creating an omnichannel vision and building a tech stack, the company is achieving it on a global scale.

Asics has been around since 1949, and could have gone the way of many legacy brands by refusing to change its business strategy to meet changing customer expectations in the digital age. Instead, it set about changing its strategy to become wholly customer-centric, underpinned by an omnichannel vision centred around not only a single view of customer, but also a unified, seamless customer experience no matter where the customer may choose to engage with them, globally.

Asics is still busy building a direct-to-consumer relationship across its global portfolio of seven brands, including launching on Salesforce Commerce Cloud in under six months last year, and leveraging this through the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform.

Director of global omnichannel at Asics, Alice Mitchell, told CMO at Connections this change has involved implementing not only Saleforce’s Commerce Cloud, but also Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud.

“Our omnichannel vision is centred on a single view of the customer, and from there a unified customer experience of Asics. It’s not only about having one view of a customer, but going further to say you can experience Asics, anywhere,” Mitchell said. “So we are connecting retail, digital and mobile. But it was also realising we shouldn’t always expect customers to come to us. Instead, we can bring products, services, advice and coaching to where they are.

“This is an evolution towards a single and clear view of what the customer needs and wants and the ability to move and engage where they are, instead of the old school approach.

“That’s what we are aiming for specifically with an omnichannel vision and a customer-centric vision, and evolving Asics from product-centric to customer-centric as an overarching business strategy.”

The approach required a global tech stack to not only service all regions, but also be agile enough to drill down into the individual requirement of each region, because consumers differ between them. It has taken a significant investment and time, to build and install this core, Mitchell said.

“But ultimately, it will enable us to move faster, and have an agile approach to engage and deploy new features quickly, while also retaining the personalised and customised nature of customers in each region. Customers differ between regions, so we have to have one platform to provide core functionalities everywhere, but the ability to drill down into the needs of each region,” she said.

Having the combination of Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud will give Asics the ability to aggregate data for customers in single view and act on it according to history, purchases, loyalty and region.

"As that suite of platforms come together under the one toolkit of each region, it will be ultimately easier to act on information for each region,” Mitchell continued. 

And it’s not only about the tech. Asics recently rolled out click-and-collect in Australia, and have a specific activation around the upcoming Gold Coast Marathon.

“So you can buy online and collect at the marathon, therefore collect at a place more convenient for you,” Mitchell explained.

“Instead of the inherent constraints of a pop-up retail shop at the marathon, we will bring the full ecommerce line to the marathon, for more engagement via digital, mobile, and retail at the marathon, in a more unified way. This contributes to more Asics moments for deeper brand love over time. We want customers to know we’re here for them, where it is best and most convenient for you. This is just one activation that funnels into the broader vision of how customers should experience Asics.

Previously with SAP Hybris for its commerce platform, Asics has brought in Service Cloud as its first global foray into customer service, to allow regions to be on a single platform.

“Consumers are now global citizens. It is our aim to roll all this into global loyalty program, so you can engage with Asics wherever you are in the world. That’s the goal," Mitchell said. "We understand expectations and service are unique to region, but we want the ability to support customers globally also.

“More consumers are digitally savvy, they are in-store, but they are also exploring what’s online elsewhere. So having a global enterprise inventory is important to us as well, so people feel across channel there is unified access.

“Having easy access to whatever is available on your phone as well, that is absolute table stakes at this point. Our ecommerce baseline should meet those standards."

But it is also important to have an integrated experience for consumers. This picture for Asics includes also offering fitness classes and advice, and ensuring consumers’ goals are integrated into how they experience the brand.

"It’s really important to have tips and advice around products of course, but we’re taking it up a notch to the best training plans, the best apps, and the best advice," Mitchell said. "We have the Run Keeper app, and a cross training app as well, called Asics studio. We are working to bring more of that personalised, dedicated fitness coaching to the process, for a holistic experience of the brand."

It’s been an enormous transformation, but an essential one, she added. "It really understanding what a customer-centric approach looks like, trying to be in tune with the needs and experience of consumers, and how we can best support them. It’s not just reliant on physical products as it used it be, it’s more about lifetime health.

“It comes back to what Asics stands for: Sound body and sound mind; and being that holistic health and fitness coach for consumers, wherever they may be.” 

Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Connections as a guest of Salesforce. 

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