Learn how this Western-wear retailer uses Facebook to better meet the needs of its customers. Change is hard. Throw in the complexities associated with social media, and it’s easy to find yourself swimming in a sea of fan pages and tweets. Yet despite the hesitation to turn from traditional marketing to more modern forms of media, Sheplers has streamlined new endeavors to better serve its customers, while maintaining its heritage as a one-stop-shop for all things Western.
Established in 1899, Sheplers is known for being a destination retailer that caters to the Western lifestyle by providing customers with quality clothing. Although relatively new to his role, Bob Myers, CEO, was determined to maintain Shelpers’ sense of quality while expanding on its customer service tactics through social media marketing.
“For us, it’s all about the Western lifestyle and being the retailer of choice,” said Myers. “We’ve had a foothold in this industry for a while, whether it was through our stores or catalogs. The last 10 years, though, it’s been about becoming the largest Western apparel e-commerce site in the world, which has been interesting for us.”
Sheplers has a strong global presence, as evidenced by its Facebook page. Its fan base includes people all over the world who are looking to sport Sheplers’ quality clothing, making it even more beneficial for the company to use social media to better reach global customers.
Although used primarily as a marketing tool, social media is also important to Sheplers’ customer service. Information gathered through its social media presence enables Myers and his team to better meet the needs of Sheplers’ shoppers.
“The majority of retail customers now shop through multiple channels, not just your store,” said Myers. “They go to their e-mail. They look at Facebook and Twitter, or they go to your website.”
Sheplers is looking to become integrated in a multi-channel way, so the customer understands who they are and how the company can cater to them. This also allows Sheplers to better understand the wants and needs of its customers. The company is getting much better at obtaining customer feedback through its website and Facebook and is realizing how useful social media has been in adapting to what the customer wants.
Myers also uses customer feedback to supply partners with a more realistic view of what the customer is looking to buy.
“We give that information to our vendors and buyers, so we can sell better products,” he said. “Customers sometimes have better ideas. It’s about getting the loop completed. Customer feedback is now a more important part our website and our company.”
Although many would think the transition to social media is difficult, Myers feels confident in the company’s ability to use new outlets to better serve the customer.
“It’s actually been an easy transition. In the past, I launched $2 billion websites for both JC Penny and QVC, so I’m used to going from small to big,” said Myers. “Customers and employees learn along with you, which makes it easy to adapt your traditions to new technology. If you keep the customer experience at the center of what you do, you don’t get lost in the logistics of Facebook or Twitter. Instead, you’re constantly looking to cater to the customers to keep them happy.”
Sheplers also uses its online presence to better market promotional events and its product. “Our Facebook site has become one the best ways for customers to know about all the events that happen in our stores,” said Myers.
Myers said it’s important for Sheplers customers to know about celebrities who come to the store and new products the store gets in. The company accomplishes this through its Facebook site and e-mail. E-mail is particularly important because the company can tailor messages to the customers’ wants and needs, allowing customers to receive the information more quickly.
Despite audience declines in some newspapers and other print outlets, Sheplers still successfully uses fliers and inserts to gain traffic and attract customers. “We do have a great circular program we put into the newspapers,” said Myers, “and we try to make that timely to our customers’ wants and needs. We also have a customized program we’ll use when the Rodeo is in town or when we have a new shipment of fall styles in.”
No “I” in team
Although social media has become a big part of Sheplers’ business strategy, employee integration also plays a role in the company’s efforts to maintain an up-to-date atmosphere. Sheplers has employed workers for decades at a time, but Myers sees its new batch of employees as team innovators, helping to build Sheplers into a destination retailer through its adaptation of newer media.
“We have a community mindset at Sheplers. If you think about how long we’ve been in this industry, you also think about all the folks who have worked for the company for many years,” said Myers. “It makes for a wonderful blend of culture, which includes our original heritage and new technology.”
Although Sheplers has provided quality Western wear for years, Myers looks at this transition as a new phase for the company. “People who live the Western lifestyle through Sheplers have adapted to us helping them through the Internet and other digital platforms,” said Myers.
Myers describes the culture at Sheplers as more of an e-commerce startup than a company that’s been around as long as it has. He sees innovations taking place at Sheplers and believes it is both exciting and imperative to have his employees migrate towards the customer experience.
One of the main projects the company is looking to accomplish in the upcoming months is to become an even greater destination online. Myers would like to see the company have a stronger entertainment- and customer-driven content aspect to its website.
“We’re starting to add more fun and excitement to our website along with expert advice from our buyers, celebrities, and customers,” said Myers. “We’re aiming to build a shopping community centered around the most dynamic and comprehensive Western-wear assortment.”