Inkpact breakfast sees top retailers in one room talking all things CRM and loyalty

CRM and loyalty experts from BrewDog, John Lewis and Sweaty Betty participated in a breakfast panel discussion hosted by Inkpact at The Soho Hotel in London this week.

The audience featured other top brands including Chanel, Farfetch, Mont Blanc and Mindful Chef, who joined to pick up some top tips, eat breakfast and receive a goody bag.  

There was a lot to learn at the event as Inkpact identified future trends for CRM and loyalty. The discussions focused a lot around how BrewDog, John Lewis and Sweaty Betty create omni-channel brands and the challenges they, and other brands, are facing as a result of the pandemic. Having three brands with such different approaches sitting on the panel meant that they all had a lot to teach one another, said Inkpact. 

“We work in dog years at BrewDog…,” said Alice De Wend Fenton, head of CRM & loyalty at Brewdog, as she discussed the incredible speed at which the company launches new things, with no fear of failure. This included the company’s move from a tiny e-commerce team to a brand whose revenue was mainly driven by e-commerce last year. On the other side of the spectrum was John Lewis, who meticulously plans each and every change that will impact its customers, as it strives for perfection before launch. Sweaty Betty sat between the two, enlightening delegates on how it starts small with testing and continuous feedback, ramping initiatives up gradually until they benefit every customer. The different approaches made for exciting conversation. 

Sweaty Betty spoke honestly about how the past year has been positive for sales as most of the country changed into leggings for lockdown, but now the focus is on retention as people get back to nights out and holidays. It has therefore starting to think of what it can do to go above and beyond. Brand partnerships, push notifications and differing benefits online versus in store are all high on the agenda, whilst also helping to drive omni-channel behaviour.  

The brand’s Insider’s week was a roaring success with a huge focus on encouraging people to shop online and in-store. This was a recurring theme throughout the event as each panellist mentioned the value of customers who shop across channels. There were also some great learnings around brand partnerships and the benefits of “piggy-backing” other brands, for example cook-a-longs with Deliciously Ella. 

John Lewis spoke about its app, which has aided it in making the move from in-store to online as seamless as possible; whilst its BeautyCycle initiative has encouraged a lot of people back into stores. Throughout the pandemic the retailer has worked hard to create emotional and authentic connection with its customers who were very loyal to its stores. This is a huge part of the John Lewis experience which was hard to maintain but, through various campaigns such as its Give a Little Love with Inkpact, it managed to keep customers smiling and remaining loyal.  

BrewDog’s approach to omni-channel also opens up amazing potential for personalisation – by using its Beer Visa to get to know customers in-store and online behaviour, it can greet customers with their favourite beer when they walk into a bar. 

Throughout the event, the brands were honest about the things they struggle with and how they are trying to overcome those obstacles. BrewDog is very aware that the incredible speed and scale it has grown means some original customers may feel alienated. However, personalisation across channels, a variety of products and working hard to be more customer relevant are all strong strategies to avoid this. 

At the end of the event the three panellists gave a top tip each:

Gabbriella Johnson, CRM and loyalty team manager at John Lewis, said: “You must not forget about customer lifetime value.”  

De Wend Fenton mentioned that it is important not to go too far with automation. 

And Georgina Little, head of CRM at Sweaty Betty, reminded the audience to keep having fun, try and trial new things.   

Overall, the event was a success, said Inkpact. It was clear that CRM and loyalty as a business area is on the up as retailers hire more and more employees in this area. Future trends were also identified such as the growth of subscriptions and a seamless omni-channel experience. SMS was discussed in detail and how approaches between the UK and USA are very different. 

In among all the data and top tips there was an overarching theme of authenticity, having fun and making customers feel good. Johnson from John Lewis said: “You get endorphins when you make someone else feel good, we should be doing this as brands.”  

“After all, we sometimes forget that businesses are run by humans for humans. Perhaps moving away from discussing customer experience and instead looking at human experience, relationships and needs, will be the big step forward,” said Inkpact.