A little personalization can go a long way in e-commerce sales, fashion multichannel retailer BGBG Max Azria Group LLC recently found.
“Our website was not in great shape,” Nathan Dierks, director of web operations at BCBG, No. 431 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, says of the state of BCBG.com earlier this year. “We were pretty far behind where everyone else was. We were doing site testing and testing new offers, but we were really just catching up with where everyone else already was.” Retailers that sell BCBG’s apparel, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, were having more success online than BCBG.com, Dierks says.
So Dierks and his team began looking for a vendor that could help the brand better compete in the online retail world. “We started looking for a web testing tool, and that quest took us down some usual avenues,” Dierks says. “But I wanted better and I knew the technology was out there.”
Dierks says BCBG already was using several data providers to collect such information as a customer’s purchase history, the dollar value of her typical order, where she lives and her browsing history. What BCBG needed help with was using the data to better target customers on the BCBG site. The email team, display media and search engine marketing teams were using customer data to craft marketing campaigns, but there wasn’t an easy way to use it to personalize shopping on BGBG’s website, he says.
“It was a point of frustration that there wasn’t an easy way to use that data for our site. You have all this data from vendors and then are told you need to go somewhere else to figure out how to use it,” Dierks says.
BCBG in May began using personalization vendor Qubit with the help of BCBG’s digital agency, PixelMedia, to better tailor on-site offers to customers. That included targeting online shoppers based on where they live and changing varying offers on the site based on whether the shopper was a new or existing customer. Since using Qubit, BCBG has experienced a 6% uptick in conversion, garnered a 900% return on what it spent to implement Qubit and increased email sign-ups by 10%.
“The Qubit platform paid for itself within the first few weeks,” says Thomas Obrey, co-founder and chief technology officer at PixelMedia.
Qubit takes all the data BCBG collects from vendors it uses and adds it to a web-based dashboard. Retailers can get insights into how their customers act as they shop online and then make changes to its site to better target different shoppers. They also can track consumers by how they enter the retailer’s website, for example, from an app, email, mobile devices, advertising, a call center, search engines and other social media, says Graham Cooke, co-founder and CEO of Qubit.
Qubit also in late April rolled out an upgrade to its platform, aiming to give retailers faster and more targeted insights based on a retailer’s customer data, such as transaction history online and offline, plus browsing activity and loyalty status.
Dierks says using location data to better target shoppers on its home page is especially paying off with increased conversions. It’s doing this via a module on its home page. “It will say ‘Hey, you are visiting from Scottsdale, Ariz. It’s 86 degrees and cloudy,’” Dierks says. A click on that box will then take shoppers to climate-appropriate apparel.
Showing available inventory, a new feature on BCBG.com, also helps drive purchases, Dierks says. He says BCBG only makes limited numbers of each style, so knowing there is just a handful left can persuade shoppers to purchase. “The shopper will be less likely to wait to see if it goes on sale because she knows there are only a few left and it will soon be sold out,” Dierks says.
The tool also allows for segmenting shoppers by new versus repeat shoppers and by their shopping behavior. For example, BCBG might highlight products that are marked down to shoppers who have only purchased sale items. Or it might segment repeat shoppers who have bought from BCBG at least three times, always paid full price and always spent more than $400 and give them a small thank-you offer, such as free shipping, Dierks says. In the next month or so the brand also hopes to add personas, such as a jet-setter who travels frequently or a shopper who enjoys Parisian-influenced styles. A shopper who selects a persona is then shown items that correlate to those preferences.
Dierks say it took three to four weeks to get Qubit up and running. BCBG pays an annual fee for the service. Pricing is based on a retailer’s volume of web traffic. Qubit says most of its retailer customers generate at least $10 million in annual online sales. The vendor’s retail customers include Staples (No. 5 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide), Saks Fifth Avenue (No. 75), Nine West Holdings Inc. (No. 205) and LivingSocial Inc. (No. 219).
“In the race to ROI, we were done in a few months, which gave us breathing room to work together on the bigger ideas that will set us apart from the competition,” Dierks says. “We knew that one of our biggest challenges would be creating a personalized shopping experience that sets us apart in the crowded fashion retail market, especially when the market has been so promotion-heavy. Analytics without action is torture. Qubit gives us the tools to not only see our customer but to reach out to them and take action.”
Qubit has raised more than $76 million in funding from Goldman Sachs, Accel, Sapphire Ventures, Balderton Capital and Salesforce Ventures. That includes raising a $40 million round in February led by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking division. Sapphire Ventures joined as a new investor, along with previous lenders Accel and Salesforce Ventures. It plans to use those funds in part to double its engineering staff, the company says.