- Fast-fashion retailer H&M has rolled out Convo's Retail Social Collaboration Platform to its 500 U.S. stores, reaching over 15,000 employees, according to a press release issued by Convo on Monday. The technology will be used to inform and connect workers.
- The Convo platform combines task management and chat apps in one place and replaces corporate email among non-desk employees, who represent the majority of H&M's personnel, according to the press release. The platform centralizes functions and allows employees to avoid switching between apps. It can handle in-depth discussions, and provide visual feedback and context-aware threads.
- The Retail Social Collaboration Platform, which takes the form of a social media feed that allows all store employees to collaborate and converse in real-time, is the first such solution designed specifically for retail, Convo said in separate press release.
Engaged retail employees result in satisfied customers who value their personal experience of retail brands as the leading factor in determining repeat business. A study by Ipsos and Medallia found that 64% of consumers have avoided brands, including both physical and online retailers, because of a bad experience in the last year. In contrast, 77% of consumers chose a product or service from a company or brand because of a good experience. Retail associates, for the most part, determine the outcome of in-store shopper experiences.
The Convo platform aims to build effective, two-way communication and collaboration in retail environments, the press release said. Because most store associates are young people who are highly conversant with social media, and rely on the instant information provided by their mobile phones, they want employers to give them tools that fit with the lifestyle they know.
"With a geographically dispersed workforce that is 80% mobile, it's crucial for us to connect in one place," Luca Michelangeli, marketing manager, H&M USA, said in a statement in the press release. "Convo provides a simple way to do that: its UI and real-time feed are very familiar and similar to other commonly used social platforms. When we rolled this out to our employees, they knew how to use it immediately."
H&M, which is trying to recover from lower sales and profits, along with bloated inventories, has made a number of significant moves in technology. By deploying the Convo Retail Social Collaboration Platform, the company is investing in its store employees in the expectation that they will improve the shopper experience and thus increase sales.
H&M has made several investments in tech initiatives recently. It was revealed this month that it made a large investment in Thread, an e-commerce startup specializing in personalized menswear. Thread uses artificial intelligence (AI) and human stylists to make recommendations to its customers for a perfect fit and look. The company is also testing big data and AI to customize the assortments in individual stores, and thus reduce markdowns by using algorithms to analyze store receipts, returns and loyalty-card data. In August, H&M announced the roll-out of a new e-commerce site and mobile app, equipped with visual search capabilities specifically for the U.S. market. H&M is testing voice interactive mirrors at its New York City flagship store, which offer selfies, style advice and discounts via QR codes.
The retailer is also investing in its supply chain by making it faster, more flexible and efficient through the use of proximity sourcing and automated warehouses. H&M plans to bring RFID to 1,800 stores in 2019. Earlier this year, it announced the launch of a new brand called Nyden aimed at millennials and their increasing rejection of fast fashion. This follows the introduction last year of stores with a broader range of apparel for men, women and children branded as Arket. These stores also include home goods and some have cafes.