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Frank + Oak unbuttons sales via in-app live chat, speedy delivery

Online menswear retailer Frank + Oak has revamped its mobile application to include a slew of sales-driving features, including round-the-clock live chat and two-hour delivery in select markets.

The brand is ramping up its efforts to appeal to younger demographics by employing a mobile-first mindset when it comes to fueling sales. The redesigned Frank + Oak app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices aims to connect shoppers with brand representatives via a 24/7 live chat feature, signaling that all millennial-friendly retailers should include this capability in their own mobile offerings.

“Live chat is still not pervasive on retail Web site and mobile apps, but it’s getting there,” said David Naumann, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “As more customers use it, they will become to expect and demand it.

“Today, offering 24/7 live chat in mobile apps is a ‘nice to have’ feature, but as more retailers add this capability, it will eventually become an imperative feature. The next evolution of live chat is video chat, which will enable sales associates to demonstrate products visually to customers during chat, which will be very cool.”

Managing style crises
Frank + Oak is rolling out app features that may appeal to time-strapped consumers and shoppers in immediate need of an item. The 24/7 live chat option was implemented to help brand representatives mediate any style crises that consumers may encounter – at any time of the day or night.

For example, if a shopper has a wedding coming up in the next month and needs an appropriate outfit, he can message the on-call employee, explain his situation and receive instant suggestions on what to wear.

The associate can also speak to which items have been most popular with other shoppers, and help individuals find alternates if a product is not available in the desired style, size or color.

Other retailers geared toward younger audiences – such as American Eagle Outfitters – have also implemented live chat options, suggesting that consumers are increasingly expecting to have the ability to connect with brand representatives at any hour.

The proliferation of retailers jumping on the chatbot bandwagon will also propel live chat features to the top of apparel marketers’ must-have lists.

Additionally, the Frank + Oak app now includes HD photography and videos, as well as the ability to sync a shopping cart between the Web site and the app.

Leveraging mobile platforms to attract new customers and incite more sales is not a new strategy for the menswear brand.

Last year, Frank + Oak rolled out digital ads that allowed users to purchase through the video content on mobile devices (see story).

Additionally, the marketer began using a way to segment and personalize the push notifications it delivers inside its mobile app, a tactic that helped it drive sales and sign-ups more consistently (see story).

Spotlight on delivery
Frank + Oak is also attempting to differentiate itself from the competition by offering two-hour delivery in select markets. This way, if a customer needs a dress shirt for a late-night work event or impromptu date, for instance, he can purchase the item in the app and have it shipped to his doorstep immediately.

This feature could be enticing for individuals in need of emergency basic items for unexpected events, and could also help Frank + Oak capture a larger slice of the ecommerce retail market, much of which is still dictated by Amazon.

The meteoric rise of Amazon Prime has made consumers accustomed to speedy delivery options, indicating that other online retailers should offer comparable services in order to stay afloat in the industry.

“As consumers’ expected delivery time frames continue to be compressed, same-day and two-delivery will become the norm,” Mr. Naumann said. “Consumers are becoming spoiled by the super-fast delivery options, especially in big cities where it is more prevalent.

“If you are selling products that can be purchased and delivered in couple hours by Amazon, you better be able to match the expedited delivery service or offer some other value-added service they can’t get from the ecommerce giants.”