How Forty Winks is finding its omnichannel feet

Retailer's digital and ecommerce marketing leader shares the data-led journey it's on to connect the dots between bricks-and-mortar and digital engagement

Since its inception almost 40 years ago, national franchised bedding retailer, Forty Winks, has prided itself on providing exceptional in-store customer service.

But as many bricks-and-mortar retailers discovered during the pandemic, when viewed at a national level, each one of those stores became a silo of customer data, impending Forty Winks’ ability to deliver an omnichannel experience of the same level of quality. According to Forty Winks senior digital and ecommerce marketing manager, Kira Poole, getting customer data out of siloes quickly became a critical requirement.

“We recognised we needed to change and evolve from being that traditional bricks-and mortar-retailer to become more omnichannel focused,” Poole tells CMO. “What the pandemic did was made us realise that we needed to move at a much faster pace.

“Before the pandemic, we knew that a million people were walking into our stores every year. And we also understood and recognised we had no real way of building a long-standing relationship when they walked out the door. It was the biggest challenge for us, but it was also the biggest opportunity.”

Poole says this challenge was made greater by the long purchase lifecycle of its products, which can stretch out over seven years or more. This makes it difficult for store managers to personally retain knowledge of their customers. However, within this lifecycle there are other events that can trigger engagement with customers, such as the arrival of children.

“We wanted to be more relevant to consumers and communicate to them at the right time with the right message,” Poole says. “We’ve never been able to do that before. We have an amazing customer experience in store, and exceptional customer service, and we want to be able to translate that across all channels. We needed a tool to be able to do that.”

Finding the gaps

A technology review led Poole and her team to omnichannel marketing platform, Emarsys. She says the process of implementing Emarsys was instructive for not only helping Forty Winks bring together its data, but also for uncovering what was missing.

“A lot of the work on the implementation side was actually on our end, making sure we could get those data points and implement them into our own existing systems before we could actually integrate Emarsys,” Poole says.

Implementation commenced in April 2021 and ended in October. Poole says that while Forty Winks is still at the beginning of its journey with the new tool, the company has already unlocked several new customer journey initiatives, and is using customer data and insights to personalise communications.

“In the next six to 12 months we are going to unlock more and more of this into our marketing strategy,” Poole says. “We have seen direct impact from a revenue point of view in the activity that we have been able to unlock, but we are really at the beginning stage.”

One of the benefits Emarsys has delivered is the ability for Forty Winks’ franchisees to engage in local area marketing, using customer data paired with localised content. Poole says franchisees will be able to input their own data into the platform to further personalise communications for their customers.

“These are family run businesses, not big corporations,” Poole says. “We do have great stories behind the brand, and the people who run these businesses really care about their customers.”

This includes stories of store owners helping community members in response to the recent floods in eastern Australia.

“There are stories that can be told there at a local level that we can share, that you can’t do without having that localised data,” Poole says. “Now we can understand who our customers are, be more relevant to them, communicate and send more personalised content to them, and build their attention. There is a lot that we will be able to unlock in the future that I am really, really excited about.”

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