How Kowtow Unified Its Online and Offline Channels and Grew In-Store Sales by 30% With Shopify POS

Kowtow Australia's retail store in Newmarket, Australia - powered by Shopify POS

Kowtow is a sustainable seed-to-garment retailer selling clothing made from 100% Fairtrade certified organic cotton. Founded in 2006 by Gosia Piatek, Kowtow works with nature to provide people with a natural and circular clothing solution. Since its inception, it has operated a successful online business and a strong wholesale network across New Zealand, Australia, the US, UK, and Europe with 150 stockists worldwide.

In 2017, Kowtow launched a flagship store in Wellington and two years later it opened another store in the Auckland suburb of Newmarket. Kowtow used Shopify for 10 years before upgrading to Shopify Plus four years ago to support the brand’s continued online growth. 

For a brand focused on delivering a unified customer experience, Kowtow's in-store experience is of the utmost importance. With 39% of its customers using both online and physical touch-points to shop, Kowtow chose Shopify POS to power its brick-and-mortar locations and has since enjoyed: 

  • A seamless interaction between online and physical touch-points, such as click-and-collect (local pick up) 
  • Information rich customer profiles that unify both online and in-store purchase history
  • 30% year-on-year revenue growth across its retail store locations

The challenge: centralizing customer data for personalized in-store shopping

Kowtow needed a POS system that enabled store associates to use customers’ online purchase history to give more personalized service and product recommendations.

“Knowing that we’d already built strong customer profiles through our online channels, it was important for us to have store associates use the context customer profiles provide to give each shopper service that reflected their true preferences,” says Gosia.

Navy, grey, and red clothes on display at Kowtow's retail store in Wellington, Australia.

Kowtow had 10 years’ worth of customer data living in Shopify, so the decision to use Shopify POS was a natural fit. It also used an ERP that integrates with Shopify, which Gosia says made the decision to choose Shopify POS even easier. Equipped with a POS system that unified customer data and integrated with its existing tech stack, Kowtow was prepared to give exceptional customer service and grow its business with a brick-and-mortar presence.

“Knowing how much enriched data was sitting in Shopify, the decision was made to use Shopify POS knowing we could use that data for our in-store customer experience,” says Gosia. 

We were able to sync our ERP with Shopify and manage our inventory seamlessly across platforms. Now, we can easily look up a customer’s previous orders and make our in-store service feel like a natural extension of what they experience online.

Gosia Piatek, Founder & Creative Director, Kowtow

The solution: a unified experience across all customer touchpoints

The Shopify POS click-and-collect (local pick up) feature has been a game changer for Kowtow. Rather than processing click-and-collect orders manually like they used to, store associates can use Shopify’s local pickup functionality and drastically lower the time it takes to process those orders. Knowing it wouldn’t create a significant strain on its retail teams, Kowtow could offer click-and-collect (also known as BOPIS), as well as traditional shipping methods, to its customers with confidence. 

“The click-and-collect rollout was done within a week and went online quickly. In my experience, it would have taken months with another POS system,” Gosia says. 

Kowtow also launched its loyalty program in 2020 using the LoyaltyLion app, which allows customers to collect points and redeem rewards either online or in-store. 

“Exchanging or returning items and redeeming rewards in-store or online is seamless with Shopify,” says Gosia. “Knowing that our customers can be rewarded for their loyalty regardless of which channel they use to shop gives me confidence that we’re achieving our mission of unifying our customer experience.” 

Sun cascading into Kowtow's retail store in Wellington, Australia

Rewarding repeat customers also helps Kowtow further its mission of moving sustainable commerce forward. “Our products are made from 100% Fairtrade certified organic cotton,” Gosia says. “When we reward customers for choosing us, we’re also encouraging them to continue supporting sustainable products, which are better for people and the planet. We want to reward people for making an ethical commitment to shop sustainably.” 

While Kowtow has a strong focus on its customer experience, it also is committed to communicating its mission and values to customers.

“Since Shopify POS is interconnected with our Shopify admin, we can better understand our customers’ purchasing behaviour and deliver communications triggered by actions they take to promote what we stand for as a brand and what we’re trying to achieve as a business,” Gosia says. “We can educate our customers about sustainability, circularity, our vision, and what we’re trying to do in the world.”

Since Shopify POS is interconnected with our Shopify admin, we can better understand our customers’ purchasing behaviour and send them communications triggered by actions they take to promote what we stand for as a brand and what we’re trying to achieve as a business.

Gosia Piatek, Founder & Creative Director, Kowtow

The results: sustainable revenue growth, customer acquisition, and retention

After it started using Shopify to power both its online and physical stores, Kowtow has seen tremendous growth. In fact, the omnichannel experience Kowtow offers its customers has resulted in a 33% increase in customer acquisition, and up to 30% lift in sales depending on the store location. 

With 39% of its customers shopping both in-store and online, Kowtow’s investment in an omnichannel commerce platform came at the perfect time. Store associates can now find orders made on either channel and perform returns and exchanges in-store. They can also check stock levels in their warehouse and across all locations to ship them directly to customers—tasks that once felt cumbersome are now essential parts of their workflow, which help them serve shoppers better. 

Minimalist countertop with flowers in Kowtow's retail store located in Newmarket, Australia.

With Shopify POS, it’s so easy to use online transactions to influence the in-store experience” Gosia says. “It helps us better understand how our customers shop and allows us to give them an improved brand experience.”

Equipped with customer profiles that aggregate purchase history and a loyalty platform that rewards both online and in-store purchases, Kowtow’s physical stores now boast a 15% conversion rate, with 55% of shoppers making repeat purchases.

Shopify POS has made it easy for us to gather information from customers in a way that feels organic and comfortable, which in turn has helped us optimise their experience and reward their loyalty.

Gosia Piatek, Founder & Creative Director, Kowtow

Thinking ahead: vision for business expansion

Looking beyond 2021, Kowtow is hoping to open new locations in Australia, trusting that Shopify will scale with it, no matter how fast and big its operation becomes. 

“I recommend Shopify POS, as it provides a great experience for customers through the offline-online experience,” says Gosia. “We’re confident in using Shopify POS as we open new store locations because new staff members—who are largely part-timers—find it easy to learn and use. For us, that means spending less time training and onboarding, without it impacting our customers’ experience.”

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