IMRG Interviews … Aldo Shoes

A Q&A with Talin Vartevanian, Director of eCommerce, Europe

Talin Vartevanian is Director of eCommerce, Europe at Aldo Group and responsible for the brand’s European ecommerce strategy and market expansion plan with a core focus on optimising local and end to end customer experience. Having started her professional life as a Show Jumper, Talin developed a passion for ecommerce during its nascent period and continues to be excited and challenged by the ever changing Digital and Retail landscape.

In the first in a new series of retailer Q&As IMRG are introducing, we spoke to Talin about Aldo’s approach to marketing, customer acquisition and retention, social media, and brand building.

IMRG: Tell us about Aldo.

Talin: Aldo is a privately owned Montreal-based company. Founded in 1972 by Aldo Bensadoun, his son David became CEO in 2017.

Standing for stylish and accessible footwear and accessories, it encompasses the energetic spirit, passion and vision of our founder.

IMRG: Which markets do you actively trade into? Are you planning to reach any new ones?

Talin: The business is pretty global and has a big footprint in North America as well as Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe and Latin America. 

We have a keen European market expansion plan in place for eCommerce. We launched our Pan-European website in 2017 shipping to eight markets including Ireland, Germany and The Netherlands. Served in English, it has given us the opportunity to see which markets show potential for growth.

Last November we launched a fully translated German locale on the Pan-European website supported by fully translated newsletters, performance media and customer service in local language.

We are now working on further localisation with dedicated websites into strategic markets which will enable us to cater better to local consumer behaviour and expectations.

Map with flags

IMRG: Do you have a greater focus on new customer acquisition or retaining existing customers?

Talin: We work equally to acquire new and retain existing customers, and we implement strategies that balance this globally.  

In some markets, based on awareness and demand, the focus could be more on retention whilst still acquiring new. In markets where we are new, it’s all about awareness and acquiring new customers and then work on building loyalty.

IMRG: What kind of strategies have you used to increase customer acquisition?

Talin: In the markets where we have own stores our staff are really good at capturing email data at the point of purchase and e-receipts have helped this process considerably.

This year, we are focused on providing our customers experiences rather than advertising at them. This could be experiential or digitally focused omnichannel activations that will drive engagement and traffic both online and in-store.

We have also evolved the collection to speak to more than dress by widening our scope and including our brand in more conversations. Customers can expect to see Aldo evolve collections, campaigns and overall business as their tastes and expectations evolve.

IMRG: How do you use social media and influencers for acquiring customers?

Talin: Our customers are really social so we benefit from a lot of user content and interaction through the various channels. We are seeing a big shift on where our target group finds and interacts with us so we have learnt to be agile with our media spend focus and acquisition methods.

iPhone with social apps

IMRG: And on retention what kind of strategies have you used to improve?

Talin: Up until now our communications have been fairly generic. We are however investing in technologies which will enable us to see which touchpoints the customer has interacted with or purchased from and what they have purchased.

Our customer-centric approach and focus will make full use of CRM with a clear long term strategy. Not just through emails and discounting but really understanding what our customers want, when, how often and why. We are working to make sure we cater to that. In the coming years we aim to build on this knowledge in a predictive way and become even more useful for them.

Retail is going through a lot of turmoil and change and many short term solutions have relied on heavy discounting and constant promotions. It might be a quick win, but it’s short-term, unprofitable and trains customers to buy off-price.

That’s why I am really excited about the tremendous investments Aldo has made and continues to make in people, technology, leading innovation and working towards becoming a true omnichannel brand.

IMRG: And if you start a relationship with a customer based on discounting, it might be hard to convince them of your value long-term.

Talin: Absolutely. Apart from the technology I spoke to, retailers need to get the product and pricing right. If your product is relevant and useful to your customer’s needs then they are more likely to buy now rather than wait for the next offer.  Customers are really looking for value and trust, quality and comfort. They are increasingly asking, “Do I need this?”

IMRG: So are you looking to use more personalisation?

Talin: Ultimately, yes, but it needs to be useful. Giving too personalised an experience could narrow the customer’s perception of what you actually offer. Customers like to browse but should feel confident that the brand knows what they want and makes it easy for them to find it. In this frenetic lifestyle we live in, building trust and shortening the route to purchase are key. That’s why our upcoming CRM initiative will be an important enabler for us to deliver great service to our customers.


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