Melissa Baird of Bonobos spoke at this year's America's Customer Festival

LIVE FROM THE EVENT: How Bonobos is creating the “Store of the Future”

In Customer Engagement by Kim Xrossing

“They once sent a customer a hot dog suit.”

The Customer Experience segment of America’s Customer Festival 2015 was kicked off by Melissa Baird, VP of Operations and Product at Bonobos, as she discussed ‘the store of the future’ – leveraging brick and mortar to increase online sales conversion.

Melissa led a very entertaining and educational session on what Bonobos has been doing to set their brand apart from their competition based on offering an incredible customer experience. Bonobos is an eCommerce business with a twist – in several cities, they have also created what they call Guide Shops, which have changed the game entirely for Bonobos customers.

In 2007, the easiest way to get guys to shop was online – Bonobos makes pants designed to fit, and since men don’t (typically!) like carrying around shopping bags, they were very successful with their business model. The Guide Shops, however, add a whole nother dimension to the traditional eCommerce model by offering a brick & mortar location where customers can come in and solve the age-old eCommerce problem of “I can’t try it on and I can’t feel it, so I don’t know if I want it.” You can make an appointment to visit a store, or you could also just walk in and get advice from the staff (something Bonobos believes in big with many men, who like to get help on finding out what goes with what).

These stores were successful in two separate ways:

1) They worked as a huge marketing billboard – brand awareness in cities with a store is 7x higher than it is in cities without a store
2) The lifetime value of a customer over time is much greater when they make a visit to a Guide Shop – it creates a relationship that isn’t there in just a pure eCommerce business

An especially important takeaway from Melissa’s presentation was the importance and success of Bonobos’ customer service Ninja Team, who recently won an excellence in customer service award, beating out Zappos and Nordstroms. Bonobos recruits recent college grads and makes a point of not giving them a script for dealing with customers. This leads to customer service that is always fresh and original – and can lead to some surprises. At one point, the Ninjas actually sent a customer a hot dog suit…the reasoning for this is unknown at this time, but I think we can all agree it must’ve been pretty funny.

The main takeaway from Melissa’s presentation was that the “Store of the Future” is one that pays attention to a target market and creates a specialized customer experience to fit them. Different customers want different things, so it’s important to pay attention and then execute in a fun and original way.

If you missed this presentation at today’s America’s Customer Festival, it’s a real shame! Don’t make the same mistake next year – make sure to register for America’s Customer Festival 2016!

Contact Andre Singer at +1 616 619 1797 or to find out how you can get involved for next year’s event.