Frank Hamlin, Chief Marketing Officer at GameStop Corporation, discusses his team’s journey in customer loyalty expansion and engagement in the ever changing e-commerce driven world, as well as technology investments enhancing online to in-store conversions.
Can you tell us about your background and role at GameStop?
I’ve been focused on consumer-centric strategic marketing, predominantly in the entertainment space, my whole career. I started off in the record business in Nashville for Arista Records and most recently, from 2010 to 2014, was EVP of Marketing and e-Commerce for Guitar Center. My role at GameStop encompasses marketing strategy and planning, CRM and analytics, and all of our “outside-in” brand and promotional communications in television, radio, digital, social and direct-to-customer channels.
"Core gamers are incredibly passionate and vocal users of social media."
GameStop has a unique approach to customer engagement, focusing on optimizing in-store interactions. How does this strategy acknowledge technology in an increasingly e-Commerce driven world?
Our model is built around our extensive network of stores, and our marketing strategy augments that network with brand and promotional communications that trumpet our clubhouse in-store experience, our fantastic store associates who are experts and core gamers themselves, and the best value in gaming — our buy/sell/trade offering. As a result, our consumer-facing technology investments have been laser-focused on technologies that enable a richer in-store experience. The major investments here include a strong focus on multichannel operational capabilities, like buy online/pickup in store, a robust and flexible mobile app centered around the personalization provided by our PowerUp Rewards program, and a tablet application utilized by our store associates to deliver the most relevant in-store experience for each of our unique customers. As a result of these efforts, we see over 60% of our online traffic convert in-store within two weeks of their web visits.
Can you share some insights on your team’s social media strategy?
Core gamers are incredibly passionate and vocal users of social media. We have extensive reach in our social channels, and focus predominantly on engaging content and consumer-outreach programs that harness the passion to drive meaningful conversation and love for gaming and GameStop.
How do you deliver personalized experiences to your customers?
Our PowerUp Rewards program now boasts over 35 million members domestically and some 45 million worldwide. The insights we gather from these unique one-to-one relationships enable us to deliver extremely personalized content based on the singular shopping patterns and passion-points of our unique customers. Traditional and non-traditional direct channels like email, SMS, Facebook custom audiences, direct mail, push notifications in our GameStop app, and personalized offers delivered down to our store associate app and POS system round out our arsenal.
"We are incredibly excited about the opportunities Virtual Reality presents for both our business and our customers."
What challenges have you encountered in retaining your customer base?
Our customer base continues to grow on a net basis (news minus in-actives) year over year. But, that doesn’t mean we’re immune from customer retention challenges. Ours are frequently similar and sometimes quite disparate from the challenges other companies and industries face. On the similar side, generational demands present a unique opportunity to harness the migration of Generation Z into console gaming, as the younger Gen X’ers and older Millennials begin to age out of our core demographic. Finding the right communication for each individual customer has become an imperative for improving our retention rates.
What’s next for GameStop?
What isn’t? We’re always changing — as our CEO says, our internal rate of change has to far exceed the external rate of change for us to continue to be successful. Our recent partnership announcement to provide exclusive distribution of Insomniac’s Song of the Deep is really interesting and a big opportunity for us. Pop Culture collectibles grew at an impossible pace over the last year, and our acquisition of ThinkGeek adds a proprietary product overlay to our already strong offering in this area. In the core gaming area, we continue to work with our publishing partners to significantly augment digital sales, with this business now comprising over $1 Billion of our total revenue base. And finally, we are incredibly excited about the opportunities Virtual Reality presents for both our business and our customers and we look forward to shepherding consumers through this unique category in the coming months and years.
Frank Hamlin serves as Chief Marketing Officer for GameStop Corporation, a global family of specialty retail brands that makes the most popular technologies affordable and simple.
As CMO, Frank leads the overall marketing function for GameStop, including delivering consumer-centric and brand strategies, integrating new acquisitions, launching new product lines, expanding the features and benefits of the PowerUp Rewards loyalty program, driving integrated cross-channel marketing programs, and serving as a key stakeholder in pursuing new business opportunities. Frank brings more than 20 years marketing, strategy, customer loyalty and e-commerce expertise to GameStop.
Most recently, Frank served as Executive Vice President & General Manager of Marketing and E-Commerce for Guitar Center, the world’s largest retailer of musical instruments. While in this role, he had overall responsibility for the organization’s $250 million e-commerce and multichannel P&L, and provided oversight for the company’s $60 million annual marketing budget.
Frank is an avid music hobbyist, and presently serves on the Board of Directors of Tuesday Morning, a public upscale retailer that specializes in name-brand closeout merchandise.