By Adam Blair
There are certain buying decisions that even the most impulsive consumers just don’t rush. A house. Your first new car. A wedding dress. Add to this list of carefully considered purchases the kind of finely crafted, high-end timepieces sold by luxury watch retailer Tourneau.
With brands like Cartier and Patek Philippe and price points that can range from $2,000 up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Tourneau shopping experience has been compared to buying a high-performance sports car. The Tourneau customer is “a very educated consumer that is typically doing a lot of research before even coming into one of our stores,” according to Don McNichol, senior vice president of direct marketing at Tourneau.
So when the 112-year-old retailer decided to re-enter the e-commerce arena a few years ago, Tourneau needed to ensure its digital experience would complement the kind of high-touch service offered in its 38 stores. The retailer was also challenged to set the digital bar high by the brands it carries. Some were leery of any kind of online sales, having been burned by “gray market” and replica websites that damaged the brands’ sensibility and hard-won equity. Virtually all wanted to ensure that Tourneau’s e-commerce site would maintain and build their product and brand integrity.
Meeting the exacting requirements of both its customers and its brands meant Tourneau needed e-commerce sites that would provide a unique, luxurious and data-rich online experience – but also lead customers into Tourneau’s brick-and-mortar stores, where they would experience the white-glove service and extensive product knowledge offered by its sales professionals.
Engagement and Education
“Our digital strategy is to be a multi-channel driver of engagement for our customers,” says McNichol. “We weren’t looking for the e-commerce shop to be the number-one ‘door’ in our retail fleet, but more to be the number-one door to facilitate engagement with the brand, to educate consumers on fine timepieces and to highlight our selection at various price points.” (Tourneau does offer watches priced for those of more modest means.)
The solution, developed last year and introduced in November 2011, is the Tourneau Digital Constellation, with separate sites for online commerce, mobile commerce, corporate sales, and service and repair. The sites all leverage the MICROS-Retail Open Commerce Platform, which provides not only the customer-facing functionalities but also handles order management and customer service, interfacing with Tourneau’s call center and its service and repair operations.
Consumers can browse by brand, style, price point and function, and educate themselves on the finer points of horology (the study of timepieces) and “complications.” A complication is any function on a watch other than the display of the time, such as the date, different time zones, stopwatch functions and even the speed at which the wearer is moving.
Online customers can also make appointments for in-store visits and put the timepieces they’re interested in into an online “watch tray,” a sort of high-end gadget wish-list. The watch tray is a critical element in Tourneau’s newest multi-channel functionality: a clienteling solution that is being rolled out this month. In-store associates access the solution via networked iPad mobile devices; all Tourneau stores are now equipped with WiFi.
Using the Relate tool from MICROS-Retail, the clienteling solution provides sales associates with a portable guide to their best customers, updated with the latest products they’ve expressed an interest in.
McNichol explains how the solution works. “The sales professional comes in on Monday morning and sees that they have three appointments this week, and also sees all the watches in each customer’s tray. He makes sure all the selected timepieces are in the store and available at the time of the appointment, and also picks out two to three additional pieces based on the customer’s initial choices.
“The associate also has all the information in our database about these customers,” he adds. “If they’re not a totally new customer, it would show the watches they’ve bought in the past, as well as what types of communications they get from us and the most appropriate times to reach out and talk to them.”
Access to this information allows the sales professional to use the phone call confirming the customer’s appointment as an opportunity to ask a few additional questions, rounding out his knowledge about what the customer is looking for. “This starts the engagement with the customer long before they arrive at the store,” says McNichol. “The consumer started it by creating their watch tray, and that lets the sales professional know exactly what they’re interested in.
“Building from the watch tray, along with additional content from our brand partners, the sales professional can brush up on further details – the original inspiration for the collection, the craftsmanship involved in creating the watch,” he adds. “All of this creates more value for the engagement with the consumer.”
It’s also created more value for Tourneau. McNichol reports that when customers use the website to make a store appointment and use the watch tray function, the retailer’s conversion rate is six times higher than its average.
The engagement continues after the purchase, with the clienteling solution improving the relevance of all customer communications. For example, while a watch is in for service or repair, Tourneau will suppress promotional e-mails to that customer. If the customer opts for a warranty after making a purchase, Tourneau will remind the customer three months before the warranty is due to expire. “We’re focused on providing real value from the digital side to the customer,” says McNichol.
The Digital Constellation strategy is having the kind of multi-channel effect that Tourneau had forecast. Its dollar impact is being split three ways: approximately one-third toward direct e-commerce sales, one-third to Tourneau’s call center and the remaining third to in-store sales.
It also represents a major advance over Tourneau’s previous e-commerce efforts, which had focused on the retailer’s entry-level brands. The previous e-commerce site “had no real investment in content and no true multi-channel elements,” says McNichol.
There was such a mismatch between Tourneau’s aspirations and its e-commerce offering that soon after McNichol came on board in 2010, the retailer decided to shut down the old e-commerce functionality and do a complete relaunch. McNichol’s first job was to clean up and connect Tourneau’s various customer databases.
“We operated in a very disparate environment. The stores were disconnected from the catalog and the call center, which were disconnected from service and repair and from e-commerce,” he reports. “We started to integrate all these business channels at the database level, so that we would know where the customer was engaging with us and would be able to push them to the appropriate channel for future engagements.”
The second major development area involved updating operations for a multi-channel business within the “new world order of the digital play,” says McNichol. It included the customer service system for Tourneau’s stores, call center and e-commerce, as well as an order management system for all phone and e-commerce orders. “The orders used to be done manually, with paper, pencil and faxing,” he reports.
Once these back-end elements were in place, Tourneau worked on the front-facing sites, and moved into a beta test of the Relate CRM tool. The entire solution set is from MICROS-Retail, including intelligent imaging applications from Scene 7 and the ExactTarget e-mail management system.
This end-to-end solution architecture was a good fit for Tourneau’s desire to create seamless cross-channel linkages. “We liked that MICROS-Retail had purchased a number of companies with this type of multi-channel vision in mind, and also that Tourneau was going to be one of the first companies where they would be providing the entire solution set,” says McNichol. “I also liked that there was ‘one neck to choke,’ so to speak. MICROS-Retail also has other solutions, including a point-of-sale system, that we can potentially grow into.”
Sharpening Brand Expertise
In Tourneau stores, iPads are used both by the sales professionals as well as the service and repair department. “This helps in data entry and information capture,” says McNichol. The mobile devices are also a sales training reinforcement tool, a vehicle to provide in-store personnel with the latest information on complications and specifications as well as “real insider information about our brand partners and their fine timepieces,” he notes.
“We want to ensure our sales professional is the foremost expert in that brand, and also that we’re generating the most relevant, brand-sensitive and accurate information available out on the Internet,” says McNichol. This is critical in dealing with the ubiquitous connectivity that is part of consumer behavior today, and it’s also a good long-term business strategy.
“As a consumer, you’re not running up and down Madison Avenue going from store to store when a new product comes out; you’re jumping online in order to start your engagement with the brand,” he says. “If we invest more in that engagement, and are not so worried about selling the consumer the minute they get to the website, we are able to build a relationship with them. That means we’re looking at a greater lifetime value with that customer’s engagement, and hopefully, a much more loyal customer to Tourneau.”
Tourneau By the Numbers
Year founded 1900
First U.S. store opened 1925
HQ New York, NY
Privately held by Leonard Green & Partners L.P.
Tourneau Tech Tool Box
1. E-commerce platform, integration, order management MICROS-Retail Open Commerce Platform
2. CRM MICROS-Retail Relate
3. Online imaging Scene 7
4. E-mail management ExactTarget
5. POS, Merchandising, Inventory Management ASC Craftsman
6. Financials Microsoft