Next week at Oracle Modern Customer Experience 2018 in Chicago, the Markie Awards ceremony will take place, where winners in 19 categories of marketing and customer experience excellence will be announced.
We spoke with Yasmini Ferrara, Director of Ecommerce and Marketing at Passarela, a Markie Award finalist in the Best Use of Data category. Here’s what we learned about Yasmini and the innovative work she and the Brazilian fashion retailer are doing in customer experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Passarela.
My name is Yasmini Ferrara, and I’ve been working for Passarela since 2000. In 2005 we’ve started Passarela.com, which was the first store to sell women’s fashion shoes in Brazil. I am responsible for ecommerce as well as marketing and branding of all the physical stores.
Tell us a little about Passarela and the great things you’re doing in customer experience.
Passarela is one of the biggest fashion retailers in Brazil, with more than 40 stores in 12 cities in the state of São Paulo and a distribution center of 16 thousand square meters. It is one of the largest fashion ecommerce operations in the country. Since 2011, the company has been investing in technology and processes to provide the best commerce experience to its clients.
Passarela first started in 1981 as a physical store chain in the countryside of São Paulo, selling mostly shoes. In 2005, it was the first store to sell women’s shoes online in Brazil and from 2010 on it started to offer clothes and accessories, becoming more than a footwear business.
The brand offers integrated consumer experience in all sales channels: stores, website, and call center. Physical stores have a digital terminal that integrates in-store experience with online experience, where salespeople can offer more than 30,000 items to customers, as well as check product availability across all stores. To deliver an even more complete experience, customers who buy their products on the website can also make exchanges in store.
We have opened a concept store, which is the strategy for remodeling and opening new stores for the coming years. The first paradigm to be broken is the size of the store — while many stores in our network are 400 to 2,000 thousand square meters, the concept store is only 80 to 200 square meters. The goal is to truly meet the showroom concept.
With this in addition to the multichannel concept, reducing physical stock brings a savings to the company.
The main differentials of the store are:
• The customer can buy on the website and pick up at the store
• The customer can shop in-store and receive at home, or pick up at the store
• If the customer posts a photo on Facebook or Instagram with the special #hashtag, they earn a discount on the purchase, and can have their photo printed as a gift
• We have mobile phone chargers for customers that spend 1 or more hours waiting and trying out products
• Unlimited access to the WiFi; and connection to Facebook which causes customers to advertise the store just by logging into their account
• As all salespeople use tablets, we have been able to register customers and send them information by WhatsApp and Instagram
• And this is the most important thing ever: it never ends. We want to deliver the best experiences, today. Because the customer wants to be unique, we need the store to be more and more multichanneled to match this demand.
At Passarela we seek to deliver the most modern, the newest, and best experiences to customers. In 2016 we were awarded Brazil’s most important prize for recognizing innovation in sales. This award was mainly due to the first “SEE NOW, BUY NOW” fashion from Brazil.
While the fashion show happened on the runway, we were broadcasting it live on Facebook, YouTube, and the website. Prior to the fashion show, we created a special store inside the site for each designer. During the show, we put the fashion pieces on the site to sell AS THEY WERE BEING introduced.
The customer could see the fashion show, know about the stylist, and buy the pieces at the same time.
We have been using Oracle ATG since 2011, and now we are in full swing in the process of moving to Oracle Commerce Cloud. Our company chose Oracle because we are looking to the future and we want to take advantage of the best techniques and practices that are available today.
Passarela is a finalist for a Markie Award in the Best Use of Data category. Can you tell us about how you’re using data?
Passarela was an early adopter of customer lifecycle methodology in Brazil. Four years ago, the company used Responsys to orchestrate its marketing and sales communication and strategies. During this time, the company has matured in its adoption and use of the technology. Passarela currently has more than 30 active programs on Responsys, which address every point of contact with customers, before, during, and after purchases.
The email channel is one of its leading sales channels. Email marketing, involving data-based automated emails, accounts for 60% of the channel’s revenue. This shows that the company’s maturity in online strategies, combined with strong technology, is able to deliver a unique experience for customers and generate significant revenue in an automated way and without any involvement in the operation.
This autonomy enables the company to direct its efforts toward developing new strategies and assessing campaigns to optimize results and experiences.
This maturity has led Passarela to three important pillars in its digital communication, which are: data, lifecycle and orchestration, and tests and optimizations.
What new CX technologies and innovations excite you?
Technologies like chatbots and machine learning are not only a cost reduction — although that is one of the most important topics at the moment — but are exciting due to the ability to create an experience that is designed especially for the customer. We’re excited by technologies that take away any friction in the customer experience.
What are you and your team looking forward to at ModernCX this year?
We’re looking forward to seeing new things that are applicable to our business, learning insights about existing technologies, and getting ideas about how to make our operation simple for the consumer.
We’re also looking forward to viewing Oracle tools that we may already use but do not take full advantage of, understanding how new tools can adapt to our business, and finally, to be inspired by the world of customer experience.
As a woman in tech, what advice you have for other women looking to get into the technology industry or ecommerce field?
I’ve been working in retail for over 15 years and, in fact, I can say that walking a path in this universe was no easy task. There is a common sense that working with retail or fashion is ‘womanly’, but not in the good sense of the word. Previously, the impression was that working in this area meant a ‘lack of choice’ in other areas that were mostly male — such as a high position in a bank or corporation.
Being part of this struggle for recognition and digging into the corporate universe is what drives me.
Currently, retail is the apex of the market. I love retailing. When someone asks me what I do, I always say, “I AM A FASHIONABLE SELLER,” because that’s what I do: I work every day to get the best sales results and provide the best customer service for my brand.
Ecommerce sells through technology, so everything we need to do for the consumer depends on the IT area, which unfortunately is still predominantly male. I have attended many meetings in a room with 8 or 10 men and myself as the only woman.
The fight against gender inequality is a reality in many sectors, especially in the corporate world. Luckily, I work in a company where this reality is different. Passarela has a commitment to offering the best possible environment to its employees — who today are already mostly female. Currently, of the 987 employees, 619 are women, representing 60% of the company’s staff. In addition, we hold 40 leadership positions.