This extended edition of the Cloud Wars Minute features highlights from an interview with Bill Quinn, senior vice president of marketing and digital for the shoe and apparel retailer Hibbett, who met with Tom Smith to discuss Hibbett’s e-commerce strategy, the company’s customer focus, its use of artificial intelligence (AI), work with Salesforce, and the current situation with inventory.
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00:50 — Tom sets the stage for the discussion and what will be covered:
- The role of customer experience as a key driver for Hibbett’s e-commerce strategy
- Hibbett’s use of Salesforce’s commerce and AI software
- The importance of the company’s loyalty program
- The current state of inventory at Hibbett
02:30 — Quinn describes the key facets of the Hibbett customer experience: the typical store is about 3,500 square feet with two or three employees. It’s very different than a 50,000-square-foot store where it’s hard to find help or a product. There’s little to no friction for the customer, and that’s a key benefit Hibbett wanted to extend online. Every store’s inventory was available online from day one. Individual stores fulfill orders placed online.
03:20 — Quinn explains how customers can go to the website and search inside their local store. They can buy online and then pick up at the store. They can reserve if they don’t want to make payment. It’s that lack of friction and appeal to customer preferences that Hibbett wanted to replicate in the online store.
04:21 — Hibbett uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help optimize the online experience. If an item a customer wants isn’t available, AI can recommend another item. That’s a key part of what Salesforce Einstein offers. There are a lot of customers who are known to employees and sometimes employees even call them to discuss products that have arrived. “With Einstein, we’re able to personalize some of that experience” online. Hibbett has an AI-powered chatbot that answers a lot of questions for customers.
06:20 — The online store has full integration with the company’s loyalty program. Most customers belong to the loyalty program. The loyalty program is easy to use, and it was available in the online store on day one. The loyalty program is one of the top three factors that engage customers; the other two are store locations and merchandise.
07:55 — The company is continuing to expand its omnichannel strategy. It offers buy online, pickup in-store, reserve online/pickup in-store, and is now offering local delivery through partners. “We continue to see nothing but opportunities in that relationship with store fulfillment,” Quinn says.
08:21 — On the question of inventory, Quinn said the company feels confident in its current inventory levels, which are vastly improved. Last year, customer experience was impacted by inventory constraints. “This time last year, we didn’t have enough inventory to have the best customer experience, and now we do so we see that as a major advantage.”