Authentic Brands Group Partners with Bolt to Power Forever 21’s Online Checkout Experience
Watch Nick Woodhouse, President and CMO, ABG discuss why ABG is investing in Bolt to power its massive brand portfolio.
About Authentic Brands Group
With a portfolio full of recognizable brands including Lucky Brand, Brooks Brothers, Aéropostale, Juicy Couture, Nautica, and Sports Illustrated, just to name a few, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) is well-versed in the world of retail giants. However, they haven’t limited themselves to the world of retail; ABG has also expanded into the entertainment business through which they own the estates of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, the Muahmmad Ali brand, and the Shaquille O’Neal brand through a joint venture with the big man himself.
"We chose Bolt because they’re able to create a cross-brand experience across all of our platforms, while still maintaining the individual tech stack or ecosystem for each of our partners."
Forever 21: Accelerating Its Digital Transformation with Bolt
Being fiercely motivated to unlock the storytelling of a brand, ABG has been able to take American heritage brands — like Sports Illustrated, Brooks Brothers, and Forever 21 — that have made an impact on so many individuals and generations over the years. “What’s amazing about Forever 21 is that this is a brand that has been woven into the fabric of fashion and pop culture in America and around the world,” says Woodhouse. “In many cases, if mom was a shopper there or dad was a shopper there, they’re now taking their children into Forever 21.”
This emphasis on the customer experience is something that grounds every business decision the team makes. Like many brands before the turn of the millennium, Forever 21 was originally rooted in brick and mortar. In the last 10-15 years, they’ve had to adapt and change business strategies to become a more digital-centric company. And specifically in the last year with the impact of COVID-19, like many online retailers have experienced, Forever 21’s digital growth has accelerated rapidly during quarantine. Providing that frictionless, rapid, and safe checkout experience for their customers is even more crucial as online sales continue to climb. As Woodhouse explains, “now more than ever, digital technology, ecommerce technology, and its connectivity to the consumer is so incredibly important.”
They’ve also found that because their customer base is young and tech-savvy, it’s critical to rise and meet the demands of their consumers. Their customers are adapting to new technologies faster and faster and want, as Woodhouse describes, “a frictionless experience at checkout, while, at the same time, getting the great value that Forever 21 gives them.”
Bolt Accounts: Creating a Seamless Shopping Experience Across the Entire Retail Network
Because Forever 21 sits inside a large and diverse portfolio of brands that ABG owns, it was important for ABG to be able to meet the specific needs of Forever 21 customers, but ensure that the technology they selected could be rolled out across key brands in the portfolio. Their consumers want options, which include a mobile-first approach for shopping, simple and consistent post-purchase experiences, and the same level of customer service they would get walking into a store and interacting with a salesperson. Across phone, tablet, computer desktop, or physical location, it was critical to the team to keep that experience consistent and seamless across all channels. As Woodhouse explains, “it has never been more important for ABG to invest in technology for a better buying experience.”
With more than 50 million shoppers across all of the ABG brands, the team knew that it was “paramount to us that we have a tech stack and tech ecosystem that is modernized for next generation buyers,” says Woodhouse.
There were several strategic motives for choosing Bolt as their checkout technology. First, ABG needed a better and faster checkout experience across all devices, specifically mobile. It was also crucial to be able to save payment information across their brands so that shoppers could save information once and use it across all of ABG’s branded ecommerce to improve speed at checkout and reduce friction.
“Where Bolt really shines is it allows us to create a cross-brand shopping experience through the vast network of all of ABG’s brands,” explains Woodhouse. “That’s so important for us because ABG is a platform, and having all these brands talk to each other and having technology that speaks to all brands across a network, is so incredibly important for us.”
Account creation was another key area that was important for ABG to solve. With Bolt, a shopper can easily create an account and use that one account across the ecosystem of retailers who use Bolt. Unlike individual account creation on a per merchant basis, “when you have a Bolt account, it gives all Bolt shoppers a seamless experience across the entire ABG network,” explains Woodhouse.
Although the checkout experience and Bolt accounts were key components as to why the team decided to move forward with Bolt, it was also something unique to Bolt as a partner that stood out to the ABG team. “When I thought of why we chose Bolt, there were some specific things that Bolt provided that we have to have. That is the ability to provide agnostic technology across all of our brands,” Woodhouse recalls. “We chose Bolt because they’re able to create a cross-brand experience across all of our platforms, while still maintaining the individual tech stack or ecosystem for each of our partners.”
"Checkout and fraud are just the beginning, we're going to build game changing technology together to completely redefine and change the customer experience at all ABG brands."
2021: Launching Digital Products to Redefine Its Cross-brand Shopping Experience Across All ABG Brands
The ABG team is excited to seamlessly integrate Forever 21 with Bolt in preparation for the holiday season and provide an improved shopping experience to their users. But the team is already excited about the long-term vision and opportunities that Bolt will be able to provide. “Checkout and fraud are just the beginning,” Woodhouse explains. “We’re going to build game-changing technology together that will completely redefine and change our customer experience.”
The team is committed to continuing to delight their customers —whether that be in person or online. Looking even further ahead into the spring of 2021, ABG plans “to roll out a loyalty-based program in conjunction with Bolt that ties together the entire ABG brand universe with terrific benefits for our consumer, as well as utilizing the Bolt technology every step of the way,” Woodhouse states.
“We are so excited that in a partnership with Bolt, we are going to transform the consumer experience by adding products, perks, lifestyle rewards, exciting things that you never thought you would get from a conventional shopping experience,” Woodhouse explains. “That is the next evolution for the partnership of ABG and Bolt.”