eTail East 2019

August 19 - 22, 2019

The Sheraton, Boston


TUMI Has Omnichannel Success "In The Bag"

Because of its prominence as a brand, it would be far too easy to assume that the operations behind TUMI, the luxury retailer that specializes in top-end travel baggage, are rigid and somewhat regimented in their efficiency. But in truth, innovation and evolution is the secret behind the brand’s success, and omnichannel is a hard-driving factor.

TUMI sells bags for as much as $1,300, boasts 177 stores worldwide (with plans for further expansion this year), and enjoyed a net sales increase of 4% to $547.7 million in 2015. Its web sales were in excess of $41.6 million in 2014, and the company stands at number 402 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.

But, despite these top-end figures, Tim Walsh, TUMI’s CIO until November 2015, described the company last year as an “SMB with a big name”, meaning that the strategies behind the retailer’s operations are based on as much flexibility and innovation as would normally be expected from smaller startups, who still require agility in markets to establish themselves.

Growth Travels Fast with Omnichannel

TUMI’s omnichannel strategy in its current form began to reveal itself in 2014 with the establishment of the brand’s omnichannel business council, consisting of team members from e-Commerce, IT, distribution, retail operations and retail sales departments.

In an interview with Retail Touchpoints, Walsh revealed the initial teething problems before success gathered momentum:

“Like any council, we were so dysfunctional in the beginning. The main topic in the beginning was: Who gets credit for the sale? Once we bypassed that everything started going well.”

Indeed, one of the first barriers that was overcome was in the bringing of different business departments together in a unified understanding of how omnichannel was going to move TUMI forward. 

“There was definitely an educational process,” said Walsh. “You say omnichannel and certain business units don’t understand what that means. It was healthy and important for us to take a step back and get everyone up-to-speed on what the e-Commerce side knew, and share that back with the supply chain.”

Perfecting The Customer Experience

One of the key ways that TUMI embarked upon its omnichannel makeover was to focus on delivery fulfilment, with superlative customer convenience and seamless experience being at the forefront of the endeavor. BOPUS, or buy online pick-up in store, was an important innovation – but success of such a venture comes down to running multiple tests of the operation and examining multiple ‘what if’ scenarios, as Walsh explains:

“We sent an army of young interns into the field to run different scenarios. They ran a report of how long it took for them to be notified about an online order, what would happen if they showed up to a store to pick it up early, what would happen if they were late and even what would happen if someone else came to pick up the product for them. We ran these different scenarios to determine what TUMI needed to do to provide a great customer experience.” 

Turning In-Store Associates into Brand Ambassadors

In 2015, Charlie Cole joined the TUMI executive team, taking on the role of Chief Digital Officer and bringing a new perspective to the company from his previous experience as CEO of The Line and head of e-commerce for Lucky Brand and Schiff Nutrition. In an interview with the National Retail Federation (NRF), Cole talks about his vision for the company:

“What drew me to TUMI in the first place was being an avid consumer and a long-time fan of the brand. When I officially joined the company, I recognized immediately upon arriving that the brand heritage I had come to love as a consumer was a foundational pillar for the company internally as well. It was not just ‘fluff’ they could use to sell products. As I began my work at TUMI, there were a lot of questions around what role digital should play in a multichannel organization, as the channel universe for TUMI is quite complex, with retail, outlet, wholesale, distributors and digital all coming into play. Bringing a fresh perspective, unique to some of the historical thinking, was valuable in identifying areas that could benefit from eliciting some change.”

Acknowledging the fact that, at the end of the day, it’s a retailer’s employees who are face-to-face with customers in-store, one such change was to take steps to turn store associates into brand ambassadors who will truly push customer loyalty and trust in the brand.

“If you are not thinking about this, you do not have a chance; give up, you will never have an omnichannel experience,” Cole told Mobile Commerce Daily in August. “I think that we get so into the tactical beings on how we can fix this and then we forget about human emotion.”

The solution, Cole believes, is to not only allow store employees to earn commission for in-store sales, but to further reward them for driving customers towards digital channels. When a company only rewards for sales, it is not in an associate’s interest to, for instance, encourage a customer to download the company’s app, even though that would benefit the shopper.

“I urge you in your organization to talk about compensation,” Cole said, meaning that efforts must be taken to get all associates excited about all of the channels and touchpoints a retailer has to offer.

Speaking At Luxury Interactive 2016 – Charlie Cole, CDO at TUMI

We’re delighted to announce that Charlie Cole will be speaking on Day 2 of Luxury Interactive 2016, delivering a presentation entitled “What Will Luxury Mean in 2020?”

The focus of the talk will be on the democratization of retail, even at a luxury level. How does one, for instance, create a customer experience that’s special enough that you can throw around the word “luxury” in a world where convenience is the norm on every level?

Specifically, Cole’s talk will focus on the following:

  • Technological advancement and macro factors must be considered when developing a brand over the next 5 years.
  • Democratization is inevitable – which makes remaining luxurious difficult.
  • Consumer demands become more and more intense every passing day – you must react.

These are the important considerations of luxury retail from now until 2020, making this a presentation not to be missed.

About John Waldron: John Waldron is a technology and business writer for markITwrite digital content agency, based in Cornwall, UK. He writes regularly across all aspects of marketing and tech, including SEO, social media, FinTech, IoT, apps and software development.