Online retailers make in-person connections through product deliveries and returns

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Designer handbag brand Dagne Dover prides itself on offering thoughtful solutions for time-starved consumers, preventing pain points before they’re even recognized.

So when Narvar approached the company about a beta test for its new Concierge service, the offer was as uniquely appealing as Dagne Dover’s coated canvas tote. This type of “catch all” would provide elegant options for those who don’t want a package left on the doorstep, or don’t have easy access to a FedEx drop-off if they need to make a return.

Narvar Concierge offers pickup and returns for a number of predominantly online retailers in more than 8,000 Walgreens locations and select Nordstrom stores. Shoppers can opt in to visit any location in the Narvar Concierge network, enjoying greater flexibility and ease.

Amit Sharma, Narvar founder and CEO, describes Narvar as a customer experience layer that enables the entire, end-to-end journey for brands and retailers, from purchase through return.

“When brands are leveraging the Narvar platform — whether they are Nike, Sephora or Crate & Barrel — they can set the expectation, directly in the purchasing process, of when you will receive your goods,” he says. “At the same time, they can proactively inform you with personalized communication via SMS or email, and give that same flexibility for returns.

“We were doing all of those things. But what we have learned is that not every brand has that presence in the neighborhood where you shop, live or work. That is different. Great partners of ours, Urban Brands, Anthropologie, BHLDN, Urban Outfitters, they have stores, they have amazing products, but they’re not in 8,000 locations where customers can walk in, within a few miles.”

Dagne Dover has a pop up in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, but its fashionable-yet-functional bags, wallets, organizers, clutches and totes are also available through Nordstrom and elsewhere. Phenomenal customer experience has always been part of the Dagne Dover story, says Deepa Gandhi, co-founder and COO, and Narvar Concierge takes that to the next level. Dagne Dover has been on the Narvar platform for about a year and added Concierge in April. By early summer, close to 20 percent of its online shoppers were choosing the option.

“Narvar puts the customer experience first, and that’s also how we approach everything,” Gandhi says. Previously, Dagne Dover might hear from customers that they didn’t have easy access to a FedEx drop-off for a return, or that it was too time-consuming to figure it out. The company was aware this was becoming a pain point, but it would be a big undertaking to solve just that pain point alone.

Narvar Concierge helps Dagne Dover remove numerous friction points in the post-purchase experience. Post-purchase is still part of the customer lifecycle, Ghandi says, “and we want to be able to engage with them and interact with them as they need. Narvar has been a really good partner in helping us with that.”

‘THE MORE RETAILERS, THE BETTER’

Narvar has been working on the Concierge concept in different formats for some time. Last year, it began offering those on the platform the ability to redirect delivery of an online order to a nearby location. From the start, it had immense appeal for shoppers who didn’t want a package sitting outside their home — and solved problems for deliveries that required a signature, such as wine.

Walgreens and Nordstrom helped put the next piece of the puzzle in place. Alex Gourlay, co-COO of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and president of Walgreens, says the partnership with Narvar is another way the company can “provide a differentiated retail experience, by offering more simple and time-saving solutions. We’re leveraging new and different platforms as well as our expansive footprint to bring more services closer to our customers while giving our partners greater reach and access in communities across the U.S.”

Consumers are looking for ways to increase choice and convenience, Sharma says. But so, too, are retailers. Some who have signed on with Narvar are omnichannel, but still don’t have the physical coverage of Walgreens. Others don’t have bricks-and-mortar stores.

It’s no secret that others have used lockers to solve delivery challenges, Sharma says. But this isn’t the same:
“We firmly believe in empowering brands and retailers to create a personalized experience — and that means really establishing an emotional connection with their customers.” Narvar understands one other value, as well: A retailer’s ability to gather data at the point a package exchanges hands.

There are currently more than 600 brands on the Narvar platform overall; at the start of summer, several dozen were adding the Concierge solution every week. Though the service might be considered a differentiator for a retailer in these early days, “the more retailers, the better,” Sharma says. “We let the consumer decide whether they want to opt in to this way of picking up an item or returning it.”

Narvar Concierge is a good fit for brands that are “highly immersive and want to offer more personalized experiences,” he says; he envisions partnerships will grow across apparel, footwear, jewelry, outdoor and other categories — though likely not furniture.

A ‘SUPER-SEAMLESS’ EXPERIENCE

Zahia Ghossaini, head of U.S. ecommerce at Brazilian footwear brand Schutz, had worked with Narvar in a previous role, and was already “a big fan of the platform.” When she joined Schutz just over a year ago, then, she was interested in bringing Narvar there, too. The chance to take part in the disruptive pilot of Narvar Concierge sealed the deal for Schutz leadership.

The typical Schutz consumer is a woman between the age of 25 and 45, one interested in the latest shoe trends. She’s also one who wants things quick and easy; opting in for pickup and drop-off broadens her choices and sense of control.

“We believed that this solution would meet the needs of our customers, and it would help with conversion,” she says. “It’s super-seamless at checkout.” The solution is straightforward, and she found the implementation to be exactly the same.

It’s too early to report on data just yet, Ghossaini says, but she’s keen to share Narvar data with her Brazilian counterparts. She doesn’t foresee the drop-off and pickup element expanding in the same way there, but the Narvar Tracking platform could definitely assist with tracking the large number of couriers used.

In the meantime, Narvar continues to expand its platform beyond the United States, creating its own vibrant ecosystem of data and insight gained from watching the customer journey.

Fiona Soltes, a freelancer based near Nashville, Tenn., loves a good bargain almost as much as she loves a good story.

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