BIZMOLOGY — With the help of iPads and other tablets, growing fashion jewelry and accessories retailer Charming Charlie is selling more products to customers using these devices and discovering that its broad target customer range of age 7 to 70 is all wrong as far as its mobile strategy.
The Houston-based company, which boasts more than 240 brick-and-mortar locations in shopping centers and outlet malls across the US, has made grand plans to grow its store network to 800 within five years. While you’d think that this feat alone is exciting enough for any specialty retailer looking to eclipse longtime established rivals the likes of Claire’s Stores and The TJX Companies, it’s the company’s mobile commerce strategy that has its marketing brass banking on bigger profits at the moment.
Traffic from tablets has doubled during the past year, from 20% to 40%, mostly on iPads, according to Charming Charlie VP of ecommerce Kim LeFleur, who shared at the eTail West event in Palm Desert, California. LeFleur and a handful of new executives hired in 2012 are tasked with managing the retailer’s expansion efforts, which include not only lots of new stores but an ecommerce site with mobile commerce capabilities, email, and social media complete with games and sweepstakes to engage customers.
What the retailer of color-coordinated earrings, necklaces, bracelets, handbags, and clothing has learned recently is that its digital push has had to up its game. Catalog-quality product photos don’t cut it online. Charming Charlie has since transitioned to vibrant and crisp photography to entice more customers, especially those on smaller mobile-device screens.
Initially, Charming Charlie aimed to serve a broad target audience from wee 7-year-olds to color-coordinated mature Baby Boomers ten times their age. As part of an initiative that involved five key areas — understanding the brand, consumer, and channels, as well as communicating with the team and understanding the goals of its brand — the specialty retailer learned that its core customers are actually 25-35 years old.
Along with this valuable insight, the fashion jewelry retailer in 2013 is paring down the SKU count in its stores after hearing feedback from customers that they were overwhelmed. As my mom used to say (referencing the number of faux ficus trees I had in my first home to make it look like a Gabberts showroom), too much of a good thing is a bad thing.