Godiva, the premier maker and retailer of fine Belgian chocolates, has leveraged a recent site redesign and the implementation of a unified engagement platform to change the fortunes of its e-commerce business … and it was none too soon. As little as two years ago, the company was seriously considering shutting down its e-commerce site.
In a session yesterday at the eTail West conference in Palm Springs, Calif., Brita Turner, director of e-commerce at Godiva, spoke about how a shift in focus around the customer has led to improved results for the retailer's e-commerce business.
Bringing the Luxury Experience Online
Godiva has a longstanding reputation as a luxury retail brand, and that's always been evident to customers of the company's brick-and-mortar stores. In-store customers are exposed to first-class service from store associates, including expert product recommendations. Turner and her team sought to replicate that high-touch in-store experience on Godiva's website.
To help with that goal, Godiva partnered with Reflektion, a provider of real-time, individualized commerce solutions. In particular, Godiva implemented Reflektion's product recommendation engine.
"We wanted to build an individualized customer experience,” Turner said, “tailoring content, product recommendations and offers to the Godiva customer.”
Godiva is now able to use first-party data — e.g., product views, site searches, add to carts, purchases — to serve up personalized product recommendations within a visitor's first three clicks on the retailer's website. Turner noted that Godiva is using Reflektion's recommendation engine for two functions: merchandising and site search.
For merchandising, Turner calls Reflektion's tool the “Recommendations for You” widget, saying it mimics the in-store experience. “When a shopper comes into our store, we ask them what they're looking for — dark [chocolate] or milk [chocolate], white [chocolate] or caramel,” noted Turner. Godiva is able to now able to present its web visitors with personalized recommendations based on their on-site behavior, which is akin to a store associate making recommendations to an in-store customer based upon what that shopper has told them.
Personalizing the site search experience was a natural progression for a visual brand like Godiva, according to Turner. Images that make chocolate look delicious on Godiva's website inspire impulse purchases. Therefore, it made sense that when a visitor uses the site search box, a flyout appears with recommended products based on the term(s) being entered. Godiva's customers tend to be women and skew older, and they're very visual in the way that they shop, said Turner.
Godiva partnered with Reflektion last fall, and implemented its recommendation engine quickly thereafter — 25 days to be exact. The gifts retailer wanted to ensure the recommendation engine was fully functional in time for its two biggest events of the year, Christmas and Valentine's Day, which account for roughly 80 percent of the company's total sales.
Since launching the recommendation engine on its site last November, Godiva has realized the following results:
- a 24 percent increase in sitewide conversion rate;
- a 28 percent increase in conversion from tablet users;
- 19 percent of orders came from product recommendations; and
- 18 percent of orders came from visitors that used the previewer visual site search tool.
In a bit of a reversal, Turner said the next step for Godiva is to bring this recommendation technology into its stores and get it in the hands of its store associates.
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