I recently had a chat with Mike France regarding the summary of this topic that I had posted on page 5. I had sent it to him and he agreed to have a good look and then respond. He did and we followed up with a chat about each item that was listed. Mike wishes to say Thank You to all for the input.
Below is the summary with Mikes comments.
What would make CW Great?
Thanks again to all who took the time to respond. There have been a lot of well thought out and constructive submissions. While most of the responses are being done from the somewhat narrow perspective of a CW fan and without the intimate knowledge of cost based analysis decisions, the results are still very valid.
I would also like to say that most are very happy with CW and think they have done many very good things to date. We all just want to see them get better.
I broke things down into a few categories. The company itself, watch service and the watches themselves.
Let’s start with the company itself.
The top mentions are that CW should eliminate the constant sales and coupons. It might surprise some, but the “constant” sales were ceased a couple years ago and have evolved into a semi annual sale for the most part. What has continued is the use of vouchers. This leads us to the comments that CW should rework their pricing and eliminate the vouchers, or at least reduce the usage. It is strongly felt that the constant advertising (emailing) of vouchers devalues the image of the brand. I am sure we have all heard that one should never be paying full price for a CW watch.
(Mike) As you point out, it is some time since we have had promotional sales. Our January and July Clearance sales will continue to clear de-listed models albeit there are typically far fewer watches in them than there used to be as our collection is so much stronger and the life-cycle of our watches longer as a result. The depth of mark-down has also been reduced over the last couple of years as well.
We have a desire also to reduce sales via vouchers and to also reduce the inclusion on vouchers on as many email communications. This has already started although they will be included more frequently towards the expiry date of the vouchers.
We are now being told that the “Swish” is the new watch logo moving forward with the corporate name, Christopher Ward being placed on the case back and/or rotor. Will this hold true? Many hope so as they are tired of the constant tinkering/changing of the logo. To some this comes across as a brand still searching for an identity.
(Mike) I think these comments may have been read prior to my comments in Loupe and elsewhere? Our identity and logo is exactly the same – it’s just we will be using the twin-flags device only on the dial – something we had wanted to do back in 2015/16 when we introduced the new branding. The response has been overwhelmingly positive to going ‘Swish-only’ on the dial.
There are no plans to change any of the branding in the near future although most brands tweak their logos to reflect the mores of the moment and we may do so if we feel it necessary at some point in the future. Out of interest, Rolex have changed their branding more than 20 times since they launched
Another often mentioned point is to “Stop the buzzword heavy, over the top, pretentious marketing.” I take this to mean that people would just like facts. Enhancement is okay, but the current methods are just too much.
(Mike) Without specifics it’s hard to comment although I agree we shouldn’t be ‘gilding the lily’ with our prose.
Rework/Reword or reconfigure the 60/60 program. A service should not be required to get an extra year. It is a 48 month warranty. If you are offering a 1 year warranty on service than say so or drop the requirement for service after 4 years. Some have concerns that there may be a lot of abuse regarding the 60 day returns part of the program. For example, multiple watches ordered to pick one. I suppose to a certain extent, this is a hazard of being an online business, but the concern remains. Also mentioned is to find another way to deal with returns.
(Mike) This is done as you know. Couldn’t agree more with the comments. As an online only business it is difficult to find a process where customers may compare watches without a showroom visit. It is the nature of the beast. We actually do not face a lot of abuse in this area.
Improve the website. While much improved from the early years and even from a few years ago, it is still far from appearing as “luxury” site. It needs to look more upmarket with more live and Hi Def photos. The order of the watches shown also needs to be improved. Seems quite jumbled in some areas. Navigation needs to be seamless. Live inventory levels when stock is low. The recently enacted collection of sales taxes for the USA should lead to import duty collections as well. This should also be expanded for worldwide use. Keep it simple for the customer.
Relative to the website…stop the presale/special event/launch leaks. It makes no sense how this keeps happening. It comes across, at this point, as laughable and expected.
(Mike)There’s a lot in here.
Generally, our website gets incredibly high marks from users. Most people love the ease of use, its speed, and the photography and prose we use!! What one person sees as “luxury” another may see as “pretentious” and I think we tread the line pretty well - mostly. Is the site as good as it could be – no. Can we improve it – yes. ‘Action with insight’ is the best way to go about changing things generally – and definitely on a website. We use customer based research and actual data from the website to help us form views about what works and what could be better. It’s ongoing and we are just about to embark on another piece of qual research.
By the way, most people visit using a mobile device these days – a massive shift in 10 years. We have a mobile-first approach as a result. The more experienced watch buyer and/or older demographic are more inclined to still use desktops to access the site. It would be interesting to know the forum mix.
On customs duty, I share the pain. We have invested in software to allow duties to be shown at the point-of -purchase just as we now do with taxes. Unfortunately, the (very large) company doing this for us (we will, by the way be one of the first brands in the world to do it) has a software glitch which has prevented us from going live as yet. It hopefully won’t be too long.
More “physical presence” in the USA (North America) is requested as well as in the UK. This would seem to be where the majority of customers are coming from. One showroom in the UK is not enough despite the virtual appointments that are now available. This can come in several forms. Bricks and mortar, service centers and pop ups. Getting back to the GTGs, not only in the UK but in the USA and elsewhere, it is felt would be very beneficial at a grass roots level. Combining the GTGs with a pop up might work.
(Mike)Yes to all (well, most) the above. Just a matter of priorities, resources and cost. GTG’s will return in 2023 and we would love to spread them to at least the US.
The US is our fastest growing market and has now overtaken the US on size which is brilliant, really, given we hardly spend any money directly advertising there. So the US definitely has our attention on a number of dimensions. We also think there is a huge untapped bespoke opportunity in the US particularly with the military. Any help or introductions forum members can give us in this arena I would love to hear from them about.
Other items mentioned were to Dump DHL or perhaps find/offer an alternative for some areas. Some UK members seem to prefer the use of Royal Mail over DHL.
(Mike) Erm…we use DPD in the UK and they are excellent. No carrier are perfect but DHL have a greater global footprint than the others and the easiest and most comprehensive returns shipping processes which is why we moved to them for all returns. They are not perfect (no global logistics company is) but they are pretty good and our own team works tirelessly to help anyone who has a problem with them.
Become a “Certified B” company to reinforce the socially conscious commitment. (Certainly this would be an admirable commitment by CW. Not sure that it is logistically or financially feasible now or in the near term, but worth looking at.)
(Kip)This is something that CW is aware of and has been looking into. It is a potentially important certification as well as a long, comprehensive, and tedious process. It is something they would like to accomplish. Please check the website (https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us ) for in depth details. CW will advise as to progress.
Enhance customer ownership, via loyalty programs, special gifts etc.
(Mike) We are working on an approach at the moment. Most loyalty schemes fail so we want to get it right. It is not just about rewards. We are hoping to have a program that will allow our most loyal customers better access to CW. We are hoping to have something in place by the end of 2022
The most mentioned item are to maintain a very long term supply of parts. This would seem (at this point) to be more relative to cases and not movements.
(Mike) This is in place. Our process changed a few years ago in how we maintain a parts supply. We will certainly have some gaps here and there, such as in early models. We did not have an active program in place during those early years nor have the type of data that we now use for planning.
Focus more on core models and let them evolve/mature into classics. Extend the model runs and have a few less Limited Editions. Some want more core models and not just unending variants. Introduce more colors at launch of a model.
(Mike) These comments seems so out of date, if I’m honest. And, of course, everyone wants everything when it comes to products. I think we have a superb collection that has been evolving over the last 6 years or more. As ever, we’re always looking to improve but ‘unending variants’ and ‘less limited editions’ (we have 2 currently) and ‘more core models’ is way off the mark.
Improve overall quality control procedures. Although we do not know the actual percentage of QC issues it would seem that there are frequently niggling things that should not happen. That said, It is far better than it used to be.
(Mike) Pleasing to hear improvements have been recognised. Our QC processes are very tight and always being improved. Our percentage of QC issues is very, very low (as in 1% or less)which is mainly due to the high quality of our suppliers. We are very serious about QC control and have delayed deliveries as a result of items not meeting our standards. Yes, items still get through on occasion, but we strive for continuous improvement and in many cases have standards that exceed those of the industry as a whole.
The new “Swish” should be applied on the dial as opposed to painted. It should also be lumed.
(Mike) Applied we are working on (it’s not as easy as you might think as the feet of the flags are small and difficult to pin. Lume has been done (Concept) and will be introduced where we think the model benefits aesthetically.
Other watch items mentioned…
Match date wheel color to dials. Don’t just use generic date wheels.
(Mike) We don’t. Each watch is considered on its own merits. We will use dial matching date wheels and/or when it is deemed appropriate.
Include bronze buckles with Bronze watch cases.
(Mike)We have them already??
No roman numerals
(Mike)?? This would seem to be a personal preference.
Ban fauxtina lume
(Mike)I presume they mean Old Radium. No, sorry, it’s perfect for certain models. Ask Tudor, Omega, Oris etc…
Offer only SH21 movements
(Mike)Nice idea but not commercially viable – today!
Handset consistency across models to develop identity
(Mike) Think this exists today largely albeit there are subtle differences to be aesthetically sensitive to the model e.g. The Aquitaine hand set is gently curved to reflect the bezel and ultra-domed crystal.
Model Numbers on watches
Develop in house mov't à la ETA 2824/SW200
(Mike) By all means. Just forward the millions of dollars to develop and the million order book to compete!:)
Dry Marshal (crown lock indicator) should be expanded across all model lines that use screw down crowns.
(Mike) Good idea.
All threaded crowns
(Mike) Pretty much there already.
(Mike) Certainly more on the way. Adds £100-£150 to each SP and many don’t want to pay the premium.
CW engraved on case/rotor (I think this has begun)
Name on dial (oh the irony!)
Long term supply of spare parts. (See above – Watches)
(Mike)And answered above
Authorized service centers so as to reduce service times and shipping costs.
(Mike) Would increase costs and no guarantee it would bring down times. The average time is now 4-5 weeks which compared to the industry average is well up there – and the prices are incredibly reasonable for anyone who knows the prices of most brands service and repairs.
Improve service time frames (be better than the industry)
(Mike) See above
Publish basic service rates and what is included.
(Mike) Agree. Looking into.
Service should include some form of refurbishing or at least be offered as an option.
(Mike) We ultra-sound clean as part of the standard service. What we’re not able to do at present is refurbish badly scratched cases. We have looked at on occasion but never got past the noise and dirt the process delivers. One for the next office move maybe. That said, it is something we are looking into as it does require a certain skillset and some specialized equipment.
Better internal service tracking and updates to consumers
(Mike) Already the best it has ever been (measured by the now small number of issues we have to resolve) but we are about to invest in the next stage of our intranet solution to make the entire process as seamless and as communicative for our customers as possible. We share the dream!
Suggested service coupons
(Mike) Maybe not coupons but we are considering whether or not service benefits might be part of a loyalty scheme. Watch this space.
I am sure we all realize that CW is an online company and that every company has its limitations due to logistics, money and manpower. However, the above are things we would like to see that could improve CW and/or take CW up a notch or two.
Some of the items listed above are certainly personal preferences, but it all matters. The questions that remain are what is CW already looking at? What are they wiling to do? What can they do and what affect will it have on overall pricing if it gets done?