When Customer Expectations Change Your Brand Should Too, with Joan King of Crate & Barrel

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“If you’re not considering the full view of how customers are using the physical pieces of your experience and the online pieces in concert, I don’t know how you could be successful.”


Key Insights


The infinite loop of a beloved brand attracts passionate people. (3:00)

Having a brand that people know and love will make it easier to attract and retain talent. A strong brand leads to passionate customers, and those customers can turn into employees, who will bring with them a desire to elevate the brand even more. 

“I don’t know if that’s the brand or if it’s the people or if it’s both, but it’s definitely this infinite loop that the brand being such a beloved brand helps us to attract and retain great people…everyone comes to the table wanting to not let the brand down.”

How has consumer behavior changed in the last 10 years? (6:00)

At the dawn of the ecommerce age, brands like Crate & Barrel put constraints in place on their websites as a form of protection for customers — they thought that customers would want to see, feel, or interact with products before buying them, otherwise, they would have post-purchase regret. Now, the restraints are all lifted and brands are making it as easy as possible for customers to get whatever they want, whenever they want it.

“Customers have an expectation that they can do everything that they need to do… They want to approve things, they want to check on their order. They want to book their delivery. They want to do everything from their phone in about three seconds. And so we’ve spent a lot of time removing any and all constraints that we had put on operationally in the name of letting customers do things exactly the way they want to do them, and make sure that when they do talk to a human being that it’s really elevated.”

 Why shoppable TV is in Crate & Barrel’s Wheelhouse. (25:00)

“Shoppable TV is something that is right in our wheelhouse because we have the expertise that customers are looking for. And for years, the stores have been the home of demonstrations, or gift registry events, or special series that we have influencers come into our stores. So we already have this beautiful set of content and events that have occurred, and that will continue to invest in making those available to customers online. So I think that, that’s something that we definitely are working towards, is how do we take all of the expertise and the fun, engaging, inspirational events that occur in our stores and capture that energy and that content and deliver it to customers in a way both live and as archived events that customers can take advantage of them and integrate them into the shopping experience on demand.”

Renewable commerce — what will it look like and why is it exciting? (26:00)

Not only is renewable commerce important for the planet, it’s important for brands that want to attract and retain talent and customers. The rising generations are more interested and invested in supporting brands that think about the impact they have on the planet. 

“Demand is coming from customers that they’re expecting it, and there’s more interest in demand to understand how the products that we’re bringing to market, how are they made, what is their impact and what are our commitments as a company to making sure that we leave the earth a better place than we found it. “

About the Guest:

Joan King is the Sr. Vice President, eCommerce & International at Crate & Barrel. She is an experienced digital business leader with deep expertise in retail, digital strategy, all aspects of ecommerce operations, and experience design. She is a digital expert with a passion for developing high performing teams that deliver award winning experiences and consistent financial results.

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Episode 195