Increase online sales with personalized experiences

Personalized Experiences

Increase online sales with personalized experiences

There are thousands, if not millions, of technologies available for direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce brands. Just check out Shopify’s App Store for a glimpse into some of the 6,000+ apps they currently have available. 

This article was initially supposed to focus on the top technologies we believe DTC ecommerce retailers should incorporate into their business in order to increase sales. However, that plan quickly shifted once I started outlining the importance of creating a personalized experience for customers through technologies.  

This could no longer be just one part of an entire post. The overwhelming amount of data and information that surfaced while researching the topic made it very clear the topic deserved its own post. And I’m pretty sure that by the time you reach the end of this post (even if you just skim over it as, let’s be honest, we all typically do at least at first), you’ll agree.

While we won’t be going into specific technologies, we will be covering why DTC ecommerce brands need to prioritize creating personalized experiences for their customers, how they can do it and some of the obstacles that exist as well as how brands can overcome the challenges created by those obstacles.

Why You Need to Prioritize Personalizing Customer Experiences

We know this is not a new concept. We’re not the geniuses who suddenly uncovered a pain point online retailers aren’t aware of, let’s just get that out of the way now. However, knowing it exists is not the same as knowing how to solve it. Nor does it mean brands know how important it can be to growing a brand and increasing sales.

Even though we are all aware of the pain point, we also all still experience it as a consumer on a regular basis. The generic pop up on websites we’ve shopped at before. Receiving the garden-variety emails where it’s clear you were dumped into an audience with a bunch of other people who, at some point in time, made a purchase from a retailer. No personalization whatsoever.

So what are the consequences of that kind of customer experience?

By no means does it mean you’re going to lose all your customers and never make a profit. However, it does mean you may be missing out on potential purchases from 78% of your audience. You could also be missing out on the opportunity to increase your current conversion rate. 

TrustPilot found a brand’s online conversion rate can improve by 8% just by offering personalized experiences on their website. TrustPilot also found 74% of consumers surveyed get frustrated by content that isn’t relevant to their lives (we can also understand what that feels like can’t we?).

There are over 9.1 million online retailers in the world, 2.5 million of which are in the US. Your shoppers have options. If they have a poor experience on your site or receive a generic email that doesn’t reflect them as a person, they have plenty of other places they can visit. So how do you make your brand stand out and show customers how valuable they are?

How You Can Create a Personalized Experience for Your Shoppers

DTC ecommerce brands need to make sure every part of their customer’s journey (whether in-person, on the phone or online) is all about THE CUSTOMER. This is going to take some time and effort. Just like any relationship you have, whether it’s with a significant other, friend, family member, etc, you’ve got to put in the effort to make it work and make it last.

By combining data stored in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, marketing automation tools and transactional systems, you can get a pretty good idea of who your customers are. Digging into the data can unearth what they like, what they don’t like, how much they tend to spend, where they live, what language they speak, how they prefer to pay and so much more. The possibilities of what you can do with that information are virtually endless. 

Personalized Customer Experiences

Let’s take your buyer’s location as an example. Anyone who’s lived in Southern California knows there is hardly ever, if ever, a need for a true winter coat. While locals might love the way they look and want one because it’s trendy in February, the need is not that high. However, your customer who lives in Michigan, where the wind chill is enough to make anyone want to stay indoors for three months, needs and WANTS a great winter coat. 

So when you have extras of those great winter coats sitting in a warehouse or winter is coming to an end and you’re ready to bring in the spring and summer styles, why not start promoting discounts on your great winter coats to your Michigan customers? Use a catchy subject line about not packing away their winter clothes just yet, they’re missing next year’s most important piece. Tie in your knowledge of them and their experiences to get that sale.

You can also go even deeper into your data to make sure you don’t accidentally create a poor customer experience in an attempt to create a positive one. For example, you know your customer has purchased a certain style of jeans multiple times. Unfortunately, though, that particular style is going to be discontinued. You think it would be great to notify customers who have purchased this style about its future discontinuation so they can purchase some before it’s too late. And that IS a great idea! Unless you only have sizes XS and XXL available and you notify customers who always purchase a M. They get the email, they click on the link, and they find they’re size isn’t even available.

Just think of that experience, it’s cringe worthy! A customer being notified of a product they love being discontinued isn’t great news but they appreciate you telling them. However, you’ve not only told them too late but you just showcased how little you know about them. Even though you have all the data you need! Instead, make sure your team is taking that extra step to create a truly personalized experience. 

Obstacles to Overcome When Creating Personalized Customer Experiences

This post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t acknowledge that there are, unfortunately, obstacles to obtaining all the right data needed to create spectacular customer experiences. Telling you all these great things you can do with data you don’t have is, well, it’s just plain rude.

Let’s talk about tools needed to collect, store and utilize data. According to Forrester, 53% of digital experience delivery professionals they polled stated they lacked the right technology to personalize experiences. While technology is an investment, the ROI on investing in the right technology could be exponential (notice how we specific the RIGHT technology). 

Make sure your team is taking the time to do their research and test out as many technologies as possible to ensure you’re investing in the right one for your needs and desired results. What kind of integrations do they offer? Can one tool fulfill multiple needs? Can multiple teams benefit from it? Identify your goals before setting out on any attempt to purchase tools for your team, otherwise you’ll end up right where you started. Just with less of a budget available.

Now to the biggest hurdle, actually GETTING the data you need without violating privacy laws. As more and more avenues pop up protecting consumer data, the more brands need to discover new ways to collect data. But don’t despair, there are plenty of ways you can collect the data you need (and sometimes they offer even better value than the old ways)!

Try incorporating a loyalty program. By offering discounts or birthday specials, you give shoppers a reason to want to hand over their information. If they get value from it they’ll be willing to provide things like gender, date of birth, location, etc. 

Another option is to experiment with offering a newsletter subscription. Choose a cadence you can commit to (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and make sure you deliver quality content that is relevant to the audience receiving it. If you offer household goods, give spring cleaning tips when April rolls around. If you’re selling women’s clothing, highlight upcoming trends (that you just happen to offer, of course). Consumers are willing to provide their information in return for something they find valuable. 

An added benefit of a newsletter subscription is that it offers the potential of a broader audience. Consumers who aren’t sure they’ll buy from a brand are less likely to sign up for a loyalty program. However, if they’ve made it to your site they more than likely have some interest in what you offer and, therefore, have an increased likelihood of finding a newsletter with related content of interest. You may even, at some point, be able to offer various newsletters on different topics. You can allow subscribers options of which topics they’d like to receive newsletters about, creating, yet another, personalized experience.

It’s time to get personal on your website. Everyone wants to feel seen and valued, even when they’re sitting at a computer shopping online. And stay tuned for the next in our ecommerce technologies series to learn even more about ways you can improve your DTC ecommerce website.

How to Create a Positive Customer Experience in the Luxury Ecommerce Fashion World

Off Price

While discount shoppers are often thrilled to find good deals on premium brands, the reverse doesn’t always hold true. When a high-end consumer pays top dollar for a “value” product or discovers that their beloved, exclusive brand is now available to everyone down in the bargain basement—that brand is going to suffer.

Luxury ecommerce brands must be careful how they price their products. Creating positive customer experiences can become tricky in the ecommerce world. Leveraging the right pricing strategy for your product listings is crucial. We recommend exploring some of our various methods to increase conversions, lower ecommerce return rates, and meet your ecommerce KPIs, including:

Brands must stay ahead of the latest ecommerce trends and provide a truly superior online shopping experience compared to their competitors. The latest iOS update has made it more challenging to track customer data across websites to employ effective targeting. Sites must have fast websites with a mobile responsive design that makes it easy for customers to purchase products. 

They must also carefully select the best ecommerce business platform that makes it easy for teams to manage site updates and deliver exceptional brand experiences. Many businesses can save time and money by leveraging a headless ecommerce platform or using EDI software integration. Most importantly, they have to have an effective ecommerce marketing funnel and track their marketing analytics to improve their ROAS continuously. 

Jeff Deisner, Chief Customer Officer for Nogin, explains the importance of aligning appropriate products, promotional strategies, and brand-level perception to create a positive customer experience.

In the Fashion Ecommerce World, What Are Upstairs and Downstairs Brands?

These are industry-level terms that stem from the physical retail world. Upstairs is shorthand for top-level, premium brands. Downstairs is used to describe lower-quality or discount brands.

If a brand has positioned itself as an upstairs brand, but the product doesn’t align with the other products upstairs, it’s probably not going to be successful. That’s when we need to discuss product strategy and make sure that the product you are trying to sell at a premium price is aligned with premium brand expectations. 

How Does Nogin Help Align Product Quality With Brand Perceptions?

Working with our client Bebe is an excellent example of how we do this. In the past, Bebe had one vendor supplying all of the products for the store. Therefore, they could control the level of product being supplied.

Earlier this year, we began to engage with around 15 new vendors supplying products to Bebe. To be successful, we had to go deep to investigate product quality—how it is made, how it fits, what material it is made from—to make sure that we are positioning products in the store that align with the upstairs perception of the store brand.

We had discussions with certain vendors who sold some of their products to discount stores like TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory. Even though the cost may be lower and the margins higher, these products didn’t align with the positioning of the rest of Bebe’s products. If we put those same discounted products into this high-end store, it would be a weight on the brand going forward. Customers would think they are being asked to pay a premium price point for a product that is not perceived as premium.

Our merchant buyers can help navigate these vendor discussions to make sure there is alignment. 

How Does Nogin Advise and Build Consensus With Its Clients on Positioning Their Products as Upstairs or Downstairs?

This is an essential aspect of branding, and the best way to objectively manage it is to let the customer speak for themselves. Perhaps the brand perceives itself as premium and can warrant a premium price point, but we disagree and tell them so. Some brands have very emotional ties to their products and don’t want to listen.

But they will listen to customer feedback. So, we let the customers speak for themselves by collecting information from the customer service function of the business—like customers perhaps complaining the product is of low quality and asking why they are paying so much for it, or customers frequently returning products. These are good indicators that the brand is out of alignment over the perception of whether it is an upstairs brand versus a downstairs brand.

What Else Do You Factor In?

Promotional strategy is very important. If your promotional strategy is limited to running deal after deal, you’re going to educate your customer that they don’t need to buy until deep discounts are offered. You’re going to start to position the brand as a discount, downstairs brand.

It’s important to create very specific, customer-based promotions focused on keeping the price points where they need to be while also helping customers feel like they’re getting a deal. This needs to be done very strategically so that customers will continue to buy without heavy discounts.

How Does That Apply in the Context of a Department Store, like Macy’s, Where Everything is Always Heavily Discounted?

Although Macy’s itself is traditionally seen as an upstairs brand, they’re trending downstairs at the moment. They are becoming a very promotion-heavy retailer.

By contrast, Nordstrom has done a great job of offering semi-annual, deep-discount sales that keep their customers engaged. They’re able to promote very lightly throughout the rest of the year and position themselves as a premium brand. Customers also buy because of some of the other benefits — like excellent customer service and liberal return policies — that come with doing business with Nordstrom.

Luxury brand shoppers understand that higher-quality products cost more. They also appreciate—and expect—the elevated customer experience that premium brands offer. Connect with us to learn more about how Nogin can help strategically align your brand with these expectations.

Elevate Your Brand, Drastically Increase Conversions, Lower Operating Costs, and Leave the Techy Stuff to the Nogin Nerds!

Brands simply cannot compete with big retail alone. We saw a huge issue in the ecommerce space. Big retailers like Amazon and Walmart have the resources, funding, and capabilities to squash online retailers. 

Many online retailers struggle to maintain profitability as they grow. They are forced to offer exuberant discounts just to sell their inventory, and they have expensive fulfillment and operating costs. Worst of all, brands have no funding for research and development to improve their operations. They also have to fork the bill for expensive backend costs to modify their websites to adapt to the ever-changing ecommerce space. 

Nogin has a different approach. We help our partners by taking the heavy burden of operating the complicated ecommerce day-to-day operations off their plate. We handle website maintenance, logistics, marketing, and much more. Our revenue share model ensures that we profitably scale your business. 

Joining Nogin allows our partners to utilize our suite of managed services. Our partners never have to worry about re-platforming again. We migrate their site on our proprietary ecommerce platform that uses the best ecommerce software to deploy the best strategies to improve your business intelligently. Our enterprise ecommerce solutions include storage, fulfillment, and marketing automation services that use the same capabilities of big retail, so you can finally compete with big retail. That means you won’t overspend on shipping and fulfillment, offer unneeded discounts, waste money on inefficient marketing. Best of all, we constantly test new strategies with our partners to learn what works and what doesn’t. 

That means your brand will use winning strategies and lose the approaches that don’t. We handle all technical aspects to free you to focus on growing your brand. Our partners are all part of our team so let’s fight big retail by using our Nogin. Get in touch with us to see if you qualify for a free site audit and learn how we can transform your business using intelligent commerce that drives exponential results!