Sam Wilson bases his entire career on developing one-to-one relationships with customers.
When he joined fitness equipment brand Bala as head of growth in April 2021, Bala tasked him with connecting the dots between operations and marketing channels. The goal was to understand the Bala customer—without relying on third-party data no longer available since Apple’s iOS 14 privacy update and Google’s plans to remove third-party cookies in 2023. Bala sells artfully designed workout bangles, beams and bars.
Data siloed into individual channels does not allow a business to see the whole picture, Wilson says. “I needed to put a marketing and an ad infrastructure in place to capitalize on organic demand that the business was already driving,” Wilson says.
To help him do that, Wilson advised Bala to invest in software that would collect first-party data to identify how shoppers engage with the brand online. Bala could learn what shoppers want by analyzing that data and then use that information to make improvements where needed.
Bala selected SoundCommerce and within two weeks, the platform was able to provide baseline reports including customer orders, fulfillment and shipping statistics, and tracking repeat customers. SoundCommerce also allows brands to integrate features like tax calculators, shipping systems, or pre-built connectors like SAS (statistical analytics software) systems, Google Analytics, and social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, which provide data that marketers can track and review.
After approximately two months, Bala launched the full SoundCommerce platform in November 2021. Now, in addition to baseline reports, Bala could write custom queries, Wilson says. According to SoundCommerce, a typical retail integration can take a few weeks to six months, depending on the complexity of the project. The cost of the software starts at approximately $10,000 per month or $120,000 per year, according to SoundCommerce.
Customized reports provide multiple perspectives
Wilson says the ability to write custom queries in the back-end within the SoundCommerce platform is key. Bala can adjust reporting criteria quickly.
“For example, if I’d like to have a conversation with my operations colleagues about how fulfillment latency [delay] and delivery latency affect LTV (lifetime value), that is not something that you would be able to pull in a standard report with any platform (that I’m aware of),” Wilson says.
Bala can now create reports through SoundCommerce and use that data to strategize where to make improvements and also see what’s working, Wilson says. The data is organized so that retailers can easily query it and it’s readable and easy to understand, he adds. Some data points include order count, products purchased, days to fulfill, days to deliver, AOV (average order value), average order frequency, LTV and location of the customer.
“You traditionally need three, four or five different software platforms to be able to run those types of customized reports that we can run using SoundCommerce. It’s a one-stop-shop platform for us,” Wilson says.
Because of the wide range of information ingested by SoundCommerce’s proprietary data model, Bala has access to a combination of operations, marketing and customer data in one place, Wilson says.
“Not only does the platform enable access to the data, but it also gives departmental leads the ammunition needed to have inter-department profitability conversations,” Wilson says.
Bala’s AOV increases 30%
Over the last year, Wilson says AOV has increased 20% to 30% since Bala expanded its product assortment and in part to Bala using its first-party data through SoundCommerce’s tracking software. This increase occurred both for first-time customers, but also, customers that returned to make additional purchases as repeat customers.
“This product made these customers do something and now the brand they have an affinity for is actually developing other products that they can also move with,” Wilson says about first-time customers.
With the software, Bala can identify which customers are just starting their fitness journey and buying fewer pieces compared with seasoned fitness enthusiasts who want to expand their equipment selection and buy more. Each customer shops differently because they have different fitness goals. Bala released kits in January 2022, allowing shoppers to choose single items as well as kits containing complementary workout equipment pieces. It can use the SoundCommerce platform to identify the correct shoppers to suggest these products to.
“We have to walk a fine line between our customer who wants to dip their toe in the water and begin working out versus people who want a bigger overall fitness experience—and how it affects the way they shop,” Wilson says.
Data shows customers like payment platform Catch
Bala also uses SoundCommerce to identify which value-added features shoppers like to use. For example, first-party data indicated that payment platform, Catch, which doubles as a loyalty program, is popular among some of its shoppers. (Wilson did not specify what percentage of customers use Catch at checkout.) Through SoundCommerce, Bala added Catch about the same time it expanded its product assortment. SoundCommerce allows Bala to see how many customers engage and use the payment option at checkout.
Catch allows shoppers to pay using their bank account at checkout, similar to Venmo. Catch incentivizes shoppers to buy through it because they earn credits they can use at Bala or other participating retailers like Farmacy, Draper James and Birdies. For a $50 purchase, shoppers earn $15.32 toward its Catch balance to use at Bala or a different retailer.
“And it adds up. We saw that some customers like being rewarded,” Wilson says.
These types of add-ons provide an exchange of value, says SoundCommerce CEO Eric Best. Rather than starting with cookies as the primary source of information, the platform uses software APIs/system interfaces to collect data. This is becoming a relevant trend among SoundCommerce clients as the industry evolves beyond cookies today, Best says.