Melissa Austria is the successful businesswoman behind trendy menswear retailer Gotstyle, based in Toronto. Founded over 10 years ago, Gotstyle is situated in two prominent locations around the downtown core, along with an online store, and attracts a loyal clientele consisting of some of the most fashion forward men in the city.
At a time when most retailers are struggling to find their footing with the in-store landscape, Melissa has welcomed all the changes occurring in retail and continues to drive growth and remains true to her vision to build a customer-centric fashion brand, which embraces technology. This year, Melissa’s hard work was recognized when she was listed as one of Profit Magazine’s Top Female Entrepreneurs – a well deserved recognition that anyone who has done business with her will attest to.
Melissa’s unique ability to spot trends transcends the world of fashion. She is an early adopter of technology and is keenly aware of the role it plays in her industry, which she acknowledges is facing challenges and changes. A strong believer that the future of in-store commerce is that of “a social hub driven by technology,” she shares some of her thoughts on how other retailers can adapt to this evolution of the in-store experience.
- Technology shouldn’t be feared
It’s quite common to see opinions which divide the world of online shopping and bricks and mortar – often citing that the latter will die a quick death as e-commerce takes off. This is simply not true. In-store and online should be viewed as complementary experiences which complete a shopping journey for customers, with mobile being the glue that brings them together.
- Loyalty and rewards are invaluable
Even the highest of spenders are enticed by the benefits they gain from collecting and redeeming rewards points, as we often see in our stores. Customers want to feel valued and having an effective loyalty and rewards program helps in this regard. However, it’s important to ensure that the program is easy to use. Using Lucova’s solutions, we’ve migrated our loyalty program to our mobile app, which also houses other features such as mobile payments, customer identification and data analytics to name a few. Customers love it!
- Nothing compares to an in-person interaction
The human experience is irreplaceable. We have an online store, however the majority of our sales happen in-store. Our staff treat customers like friends as they help them shop, which makes the act of buying a suit a fun social experience, instead of a mundane task to tick off. We’ve also implemented BLE powered technology which helps staff identify customers by name as they walk into our stores, so we can deliver a personalized experience the minute they step into Gotstyle.
- It’s not just about the millennials
While millennials represent a large chunk of retail sales and are often the group discussed in the media, especially in relation to their use of technology in retail, it’s important to note that baby boomers have deep wallets, time on their hands and are also desirable customers. While their use of technology may not be as prevalent as their millennial counterparts, with the right education and marketing they can be a retailer’s most loyal (and tech savvy) customer.
- A mobile program is a must have, not a nice to have
If there are any major retailers out there still looking at mobile as a component of a digital strategy, they’re in trouble. Mobile is the holy grail of marketing, a device that connects brands to consumers on a 1:1 basis, and should be viewed as a necessary extension of the brand.