• Add-to-cart rate is an excellent means of tracking product effectiveness.
  • An easy way to connect with customers is through live content.
  • Consider a live content strategy to better connect with your customers.

Meet Devon

  • Ecommerce product manager at… Chubbies!
  • If you haven’t heard of Chubbies, and you live in the US, you are in for a treat. This company is a different take on clothing. They started with men’s shorts and have branched out. But it’s how that makes the difference. And that’s what we are talking about today.
  • Devon takes responsibility for much of Chubbies presentation on their website.

Another clothing company? What’s the difference?

The number of fashion brands online today is staggering. Everyone from Walmart to Amazon Basics to Levi’s to American Eagle to Neiman Marcus to Gucci sells apparel. If you’re in the market for men’s shorts, most of the above still applies (check out this pair of Gucci shorts for $950USD).

The first question I posed to Devon was: what sets Chubbies apart from all others in the category?

  • They are trendsetters. They brought back short shorts. As a result, they have become widely known and almost a household name. Even better, men’s “short shorts” are fairly synonymous with Chubbies. That’s a great place to be.
  • They connect with their customers. Chubbies is social. Chubbies is visual. Chubbies is audible. Remember, people love to connect with online brands, and Chubbies has nailed it. This is part of Chubbies DNA, and it shows.

What’s Chubbies thoughts on product line expansion?

They started with men’s short shorts (including swim trunks and casual wear). They have expanded into outerwear, pull-overs, Hawaiian shirts (love it!), and even packable windbreakers that turn into fannypacks! All over Chubbies website is the idea of Friday at 5:00pm and weekend vibes.

What’s the common thread that binds these together? It’s what their customers want. Chubbies deeply integrates customer feedback into their product development process. This sounds cliche, of course. But, it is made easier because they are their own audience. They live similar to their customers, so this is a very authentic brand.

Devon said that while innovation is part of the budget, the important part is measuring to understand its effectiveness. And then, being willing to cut your losses if something doesn’t stand up to the test of time (and sales).

Measuring product effectiveness

I asked Devon what are his favorite metrics to determine how well a product is received by the Chubbies audience.

Sell-through rate. How fast are you moving through product? This is especially helpful when segmenting by channel—which platform is resulting in the majority of sales?

Add-to-cart rate. Many merchants track conversion rate, but few that I have seen track the add-to-cart rate. Here’s the fascinating point: tracking the add-to-cart rate means you trust your checkout process. In other words, the product’s performance is not muddied or enhanced based on what people think of the checkout. Instead, the add-to-cart rate indicates immediate impact of a product on a person. Does this resonate? If they add to the cart, and then don’t finalize the order, you could be looking at process improvements on the checkout page.

If you take one thing away from this podcast, consider monitoring your add-to-cart rate.

A different take on website navigation

Note: I always recommend embracing the process behind optimization. Don’t take this section as what YOU need to do to improve your navigation. Rather, listen to how Devon and Chubbies arrived at this idea.

The Chubbies online experience is quite similar to other websites, but with one exception—navigation.

Notice that there is no mega-menu. Instead, Chubbies has embraced the “F” browsing pattern. Customers look at a page in the form of an “F” letter: first glance is across the top. Next is in the middle of the page, but not a full-width scan. Further views are less and less to the right: thus the “F”. But, the only area that is fully seen is the left sidebar.

How did they come to this? Devon stresses that they are a data-first company, and here’s one way to prove this. They observed people using their left sidebar more than the top links. They experimented with mostly eliminating top navigation. As a result, their per-session value increased. Customers found that they were able to see more products on the same screen (instead of having to click to see a new product).

So how does A/B testing fit into this? Testing is part of Chubbies DNA: they do several A/B tests every week. But from where do these ideas come? Ideas come from all over the place, like “hey guys, I was on a run and had this idea, what do you think?” Then, they try it. Inspiration comes from everyone and everyone.

In addition, they constantly retest previous successes. Just because something seemed to work previously does not mean it is still working. In addition, through the testing process, new idea may be discovered. Devon estimates their success rate around 60%.

Devon prefers Google Optimize for on-site A/B testing and Dynamic Yield for personalization.

Content development

Devon says it all starts with the people. Chubbies has a great content team (this is obvious). I might add that they have an easier time creating content than some ecom merchants as Chubbies is their audience. They have immediate and fairly accurate intuition with what will resonate.

Every year, Chubbies holds a man model contest. This year, thanks to COVID-19, it’s going to be a little different. This presents each member of the Chubbies audience and opportunity to participate in the brand and potentially become famous.

This is brilliant in building engagement and the community.

Better yet, all Chubbies content is created around this idea of having fun. After all, who doesn’t want to have fun?

What is Chubbies favorite social platform? Instagram and Instagram Live. With the stay-at-home/shelter-in-place/miss-seeing-your-friends orders customers are fairly eager to connect with someone in a meaningful way (no wonder many musicians launched online concerts). Their podcasts are also live-recorded every Friday on Instagram live.

Twitter is great for customer interaction. Many customers turn to Twitter to ask a company a question. This is a very public means of interaction—but it also gives the company an opportunity to “redeem itself”. Let’s say the customer is complaining about a package being damaged when it arrives (we all know it unlikely to be the merchant’s fault). They turn to Twitter to take up their grievance there. If the merchant comes back in a polite and kind way, they are likely to boost their customer image.

How to ensure ROI exists for content investment? Watch the engagement. Engagement isn’t always directly translated to $$$. But, in the long run it is. Oh, and Devon doesn’t discount gut feelings (it’s true that this is helpful, especially as they are their own audience!).

Two big things:

In closing, I like to ask what are the two big things that are missing for merchants. Here is Devon’s (excellent) response:

  • Loyalty programs are critical: loyalty programs encourage people to come back, over and over.
  • Live content promotes engagement: as we already discussed, get on live content. This is the closest thing to face time that you possibly can have.
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