BCBG Max Azria is an old hand at personalization in the physical world, where it has been crafting strong relationships with customers for nearly three decades. In the e-Commerce world BCBG is more of a novice, but the retailer is discovering the nuances and granularity that are possible with the next generation of personalization tools.
The brand already is achieving some significant results. Since going live in May 2016 with a data-driven customer experience platform from Qubit, BCBG has seen:
• A 9X return on investment;
• Conversion increases of up to 6%; and
• A 10X increase in email sign-ups.
“For us, personalization is about finding out how the customer wants to interact with us, versus how we think they should interact with us,” said Nathan Dierks, Director of Web Operations for BCBG Max Azria Group. “The challenge for us is to start small and then get bigger as far as using the advanced tools in the platform.”
For example, BCBG has had some of its strongest conversion increases when showing online shoppers the exact number of SKUs left in inventory. “We don’t stock a lot of any one specific dress, and people get frustrated when it’s sold out,” explained Dierks in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “If we show them that there are only two left in their size, they understand the urgency and respond positively.”
Tying Actionable Data To Actions
The Qubit solution ties together multiple data points about customers and their site activities. Even before deploying Qubit, BCBG had been tagging and recording multiple data points about site visitors. The difference is that the Qubit solution “nicely consolidates it all in one portal, allowing us to see it and build segments with it,” said Dierks. “I can say ‘Tell me how many people have browsed in this category, purchased more than twice and had order values over $600.’ With four or five clicks, the solution will tell me that this group represents 11% of my total audience; then it also allows me to create an experience for them. It’s all connected, right there.”
The retailer’s new customer segmentation capabilities allow BCBG to create multiple groups based on actions, attitudes and preferences. These groups can be far more granular and specific than traditional marketing “personas” such as Career Woman, Suburban Mom, or Fashionista.
While BCBG began with relatively simple distinctions, such as desktop vs. mobile users, the retailer has quickly been able to identify multiple relevant “slices” of its customer base. “As we build up the persistent record, we can identify people who have browsed our editorial content; VIP shoppers who have spent over a certain dollar amount; people who browse but don’t buy; shoppers motivated by sales; and shoppers that are only interested in what’s new,” said Dierks. “As we add more, the branches of this tree get pretty complex, but it’s really informative.”
The link between data, analytics and actions provides another big benefit for BCBG. “We can tie analytics to segments, then tie those segments back to experiences and testing,” said Dierks. For example, the retailer can create a segment consisting solely of people that have rated BCBG poorly in online surveys, then take actions to address their issues and test the results.
Leveraging Geolocation And Weather Data
BCBG also has seen success with geolocation data tied to local weather forecasts. “We can show you a small window on the screen noting that it’s 86 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles, and then say ‘Here are styles we recommend for your precipitation and temperature level,'” said Dierks. “People seem to like interacting with that, and we’ve seen positive results across our KPIs. The challenge for us is to continue to use geolocation data in a way that’s coherent for the customer in their shopping experience.”
Dierks credits Qubit for suggesting the weather targeting, as well as additional tools that have worked for its other fashion clients. “Sometimes you get rooted into your own mentality, so they suggested some things that hadn’t crossed our minds,” he said. “One is the principle of reciprocation with the customer — that if they give you something, like their email address, you give them something back, like a 10% or 15% off coupon.”
BCBG’s e-Commerce site needs every personalization tool it can get. The retailer faces some unique challenges in that it’s competing not just with other apparel brands but, in a sense, with itself. “We’re not the only people selling BCBG dresses online; we have partners like Neiman Marcus that do a wonderful job,” said Dierks. “They have a lot of tools and invest heavily in their technology.”
The brand also must deal with the inherent challenges of selling apparel online, such as concerns about fit and returns policies. “It can be a challenge to get someone to buy a nice, kind of expensive dress online,” said Dierks. “Our dresses have a unique fit and style, and it can be unnerving for some people to spend that kind of money on apparel on the Internet.”
Additionally, BCBG must market to both new and long-time shoppers. “We have customers that have been with us for 27 years,” noted Dierks. “And it’s not that they’re not tech-savvy; the vast majority have the latest and greatest devices, and they often challenge us to keep up with emerging trends.” The retailer seeks to continue its commitment to these long-time customers while also appealing to a new generation of shoppers who are more accustomed to buying products online.
For now, though, BCBG is taking personalization a few steps at a time. “We’re aware of how advanced the platform can get, but we don’t know if the customer wants us to change everything about every part of the page based on what segment they are part of,” said Dierks. “Right now it’s about identifying meaningful segments, and then identifying the content that appeals to those segments.”