Technology helps catalogers deliver precise online marketing
Many of Williams-Sonoma’s customers shop through one or more of its retail stores and often via multiple sales channels, requiring customer behavior to be integrated from all channels for use online and in e-mail campaigns.
“As we think about long-term opportunities to build our customer-management capability, we look at things that give deep customer behavior and understanding so we send the right messages,” says Nandkeolyar about the company’s decision to use online personalization. “I think it reinforces our basic position as an authority in the cooking space. The basic [customer] expectation is that [we] know what the customer needs and that we provide them with good counsel.”
The Personalization Network allows Williams-Sonoma to combine past online and off-line purchasing behavior, real-time shopping patterns and product acceptance rates to generate an automated, instantaneous merchandise recommendation to the online shopper.
Tracking and using real-time information to affect online product sales has been challenging for catalogers. While they are familiar with analyzing how merchandise performs and making the necessary alterations in between drops, the pace at which the Internet throws out data has been dizzying. In addition, catalogers are competing with companies that offer lower price points, not necessarily a strength of catalogers that are used to working on tight profit margins.
Automated personalization programs can eliminate some of the work. For instance, the Personalization Network can identify a cataloger’s best customers based on recency and purchase amounts. It then takes the customer’s history and generates a list of common products purchased by best clients. The data can then be used to offer the right incentives and discounts to only quality customers, so that the cataloger is not “giving away” product to bargain hunters who won’t become multiple buyers.
Nandkeolyar sees personalization as a component of customer service needed for effective marketing. He says that while marketing to consumers through personalization does require using existing data, he doesn’t consider it database marketing because unlike the current uses of database marketing it is real time and one to one.