How Kendra Scott creates a brilliant customer experience online

Retail Gets Real Episode 302: SVP for Ecommerce Chris Hardisty on recreating the in-store experience online

With nearly 20 years of experience in creating seamless shopping experiences for apparel and footwear brands including Timberland, Puma, Lacoste and Clarks, Chris Hardisty knows what it takes to entice current and new shoppers while keeping in mind the customer journey across all touchpoints.

But selling jewelry online is a whole different challenge. Hardisty, senior vice president of ecommerce for Kendra Scott, joins this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real, recorded on-site at NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show in New York City. “The unique things about jewelry are things like the veins and the stones or the sparkle and shine that you get in the store,” he says. “That’s been the challenge for digital … how do we take that store experience and bring it online?”

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Founded in 2002 in Austin, Texas, the Kendra Scott brand now operates more than 115 stores and is valued at more than $1 billion. “It’s an amazing story,” Hardisty says, describing how Scott’s first business venture failed, but that the founder found success and a place in the market making jewelry that’s upscale but still accessible.

Kendra Scott also has a growing digital presence, which is where Hardisty comes in. “I’ve been consulting over the last year and a half, and just through my connections in the industry, a couple people have called me and said, ‘Hey, we have a situation where we need to help get the digital business back on the right track,’” he says.

“I guess it’s sort of my sweet spot. I’m happy to come in and sort of lead the team, lead the roadmap and help get things moving in the right direction.”

Part of that digital presence has come about thanks to the jewelry brand going viral on TikTok during sorority rush weeks across the country. In 2021, Kendra Scott was part of “‘Bama RushTok” as sorority recruits from the University of Alabama began posting “outfit of the day” videos that included the #kendrascott hashtag on the social media platform.

The next year, Kendra Scott’s marketing team put a concerted effort on back-to-school marketing earlier in the year with additional messaging, social media content and targeted emails. “It is a very important element of the Kendra Scott brand,” Hardisty says. “That age group, that age demographic, has really embraced the brand.”

Listen to the full podcast to hear more about Hardisty’s career, his best career advice to those starting out in retail and why company culture is so important to a brand’s success.

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