Putting the customer first with Brothers' CEO

Christopher Englinde (formerly of H&M, New Look and Topman), on what retailers must do today to succeed.

  • Topic
    Customer experience, Retail trends

When Christopher Englinde talks about fashion retail it pays to listen.

He’s been the managing director at Topman, Menswear Director at New Look, he worked for H&M for over a decade, and - for the past four years - he’s been the man at the helm of Brothers, one of Sweden’s leading men’s fashion retailers.

With more than 40 stores across the country and a booming ecomm business, Brothers are seeing awesome success - all based around their customer-centric approach and desire to help their customers be the best version of themselves.

Brothers have recently finished rolling out Sitoo across all their stores. We took the opportunity to catch up with Christopher to get his unique insight on what retailers need to be doing today to be successful and why connecting with customers will always be the number one thing retailers need to get right.

Brothers’ are well known for their customer-centric approach. What’s the brand’s purpose and promise?

What we really want to do at Brothers is help our customers express themselves through what they are wearing. We want to give them that extra bit of confidence if they’re going on a first date, when going to a job interview, or even if they just want to look on point when they’re going for a walk on a Sunday.

It doesn’t matter what they need, we’re here to help them. That is our brand purpose. We want to encourage people to be confident in their own body and to be proud of what they're wearing. Whatever you wear, wear it however you want and be proud because no one else does it better than you. We want to help our customers to live their best life and simply to be their best selves. That is really our brand, purpose and brand promise.

What this looks like on a day-to-day basis, is that we really listen to our customers. We empower our store associates to engage and connect with our customers in stores beyong just saying “hello”. We also have one of the strongest member club loyalty schemes in the country and very loyal members that engage and communicate with us a lot – a great advantage. And we really listen to our customers. Because we know that they are our most important asset. I've been in this industry for very many years and everybody says that they have a customer-centric customer focus but we really do.

What kind of experience do you want your customers to have when they come into one of your stores?

First of all, we want you to feel welcome, included and relaxed. We’re here to help you. We want to help our customers find exactly what they are looking for, to give them advice when they want it, and we want them to leave the store feeling great about themselves. Whether it’s showing them what shirt to wear or how to tie a tie and make it the correct length, we’re there to help. So we want you to feel comfortable, relaxed, and included. We’re like this for everyone. Most guys when they shop with us will find something to wear that makes them feel a bit smarter.

How does technology help with this approach?

Retail in general - and especially fashion retail - is constantly evolving and changing. You need to be courageous, brave and curious if you want to be profitable and grow in the market. When the needs and the wants of the customer are changing, you as a retailer must change with the times and constantly challenge everything that you do in order to meet - but also exceed - the expectations of the customer.

I’m very passionate about making sure that we meet the customers where they are and physical retail is definitely not dead. With that I want Brothers to be at the forefront. In our stores we felt the need to be more flexible, even more personalized, and have an even bigger point of difference in our customer experience and the types of conversations we have with our customers.

We also knew that improving our omnichannel capabilities was crucial to doing this and we realized there was a lot of room for improvement in the technology in our business and our stores - hence why we’ve invested in changing all of our systems. IN my opinion technology shouldn’t limit you it should provide you with more opportunities.

And, I think, when working with a technology partner, it’s really important you find the right fit. From our first meeting with Sitoo we knew this was the solution for us. There was so much energy in the room, we were bouncing ideas off of each other, and the relationship has continued to grow ever since.

So now our customers can checkout wherever they are in the store and our associates have been given more flexibility with technology in their hands that also makes their jobs way more fun.

Of course there’s all the wonderful functionality like stock visibility but what it really comes down to is we want to say yes more often to our customers than we do today - and Sitoo is helping us do that.

What are your top tips for other retailers?

Like we said, customer behavior is always changing and retail is always evolving. You have to change with it otherwise you’ll get left behind. But, firstly, you need to be yourself. You need to trust your own ideas and directions, You need to keep challenging yourself and always striving to be better.

Secondly, be agile and be curious to new ideas. If you accept retail is always evolving then you may as well embrace it and enjoy the ride.

Finally, always, always, always listen to your customers. They are giving you feedback every single day through what they buy and what they don’t buy.

And finally, what excites you most about the future?

I’m really excited to see the resurgence of the high street, especially after the pandemic. Everyone said the high street and physical retail were going to die but it’s actually going the other way. It’s being rebuilt and it’s thriving. A vibrant, diverse high street is brilliant for retail but it’s also really important for society. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a big city or a small town, it’s important to have a lively town center. People don’t always want to be sitting behind their screens shopping. They want to live it, feel it, breathe it, and experience it and this is something I’m hugely excited and passionate about.

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