If You Want to Succeed in High-Heat Retail, Bake Fairness into the Experience

There have never been more barriers to the things we enjoy in life. Everything from limited edition sneakers to international stadium tour tickets have become seemingly unattainable. Consumers are often met with an unfair experience, failing websites, bots eating up stock. But with 73% of consumers saying that “a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties,” according to PwC, there has never been a better time for brands to relook at their processes, upgrade their antiquated technology and find a new solution that delivers a fair experience to sustain customer loyalty.

The World of ‘Hype’

Starting with designer collaborations in the early 2010s, the desire for limited edition, or what is now classified as “hype” products, has become a popular purchasing pattern among millennials and Gen Z. From Tiffany & Co. to Nike, brands are catching on, with many of them tapping into niche communities to expand their cultural impact. Insights from our partners suggest that, on average, high-heat sales contribute 10% to 15% (vs. 85% to 90% from inline sales). With limited edition products, brands are attracting and unleashing a whole new set of customers and brand loyalists.

In a tech-dominated world where social media offers brands insights into consumer purchase patterns, hype commerce has a real advantage when it comes to attracting high value customers. Prioritizing the need for best-in-class technology and focusing on offering consumers a fair experience is becoming essential for brands to survive.

Creating a Fair Playing Field and Great Experience

As the world of ecommerce continues to grow exponentially, so has the rise of scammers and bots nipping at the heels of every big launch day, thus ruining the experience for all. Prices skyrocket, sellouts happen in a matter of seconds, carts get hijacked — the list goes on and on. According to a survey conducted by PwC, 32% of customers say that they will stop doing business with a brand they love after just one bad experience.

These exclusive launch moments are crucial for many brands’ marketing and sales strategies. Thus, instituting more guardrails during peak moments protects not only a company’s business but customer loyalty as well. More importantly, ensuring those who are abiding by the rules and are playing fair are rewarded is pivotal. So how do you make that possible in a digital world?

Five Lessons to Build Fierce Customer Loyalty

There are many ways to build a great customer experience, but building loyalty is no walk in the park. Many brands fail at scaling as it takes time, attention, and care. When demand is high — whether from customers, stakeholders or investors — some sacrifice the customer experience in the short term and can’t quite recover from the impact long-term.

Here are five ways to build and ensure fierce customer loyalty:

  1. Get into the head and heart of your customer: Investing the time to learn what your customers care about, the communities they come from or live in, why they shop with you, etc. will help build brand equity and customer trust. 
  2. Be clear on the objectives of a hype or limited edition launch:Hype drops can backfire if a brand does not have a proper plan in place to handle the demand. Cross-functional communication to ensure the right measures are in place to stop bad actors is key in order for the 360-degree experience to be flawless.
  3. Marketable launches help bring new people in, yet it’s the experience that gets them to stay: Ensuring there is a seamless experience at checkout is crucial to leaving a positive, lasting impression.
  4. People before profit: Obsessing over the customer experience and creating the time to learn about their interests will help create a best-in-class drop that puts products into the “right” hands.
  5. Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk: Investing in the right technology is essential in order to manage the demand as well as navigate bad actors and the issues that come with them (i.e. bad payments, bots, exploiting stock, etc.).

By looking at hype commerce through the lens of customer experience and implementing technology like EQL, an end-to-end platform powering some of the world’s most lucrative launches, brands are able to foster relationships with high-value customers and ensure their products get into the hands of true brand fans — ultimately creating the most fair experience for their customers.

Andrew Lipp is a self-proclaimed tragic sneaker fan and proven brand builder. After nearly a decade of leading multiple marketing functions at Google, Lipp and two of his colleagues embarked on a mission to build the world’s fairest hype commerce platform. As CEO of EQL, Lipp leverages his marketing expertise and first-hand fandom experience to drive this mission forward. After launching just over a year ago, EQL has managed more than 2,000 high-heat launches in 14 markets and seven languages and been named a Fast Company 2023 Most Innovative Company.