The Key to Success? Personalization, Say Leading Retail Executives
FOCUS 2012: Trends in Digital Media — E-tail & Retail, a half-day conference presented by the Retail Marketing Society yesterday in New York City, featured a panel of retail marketing executives discussing best practices around how to monetize the digital consumer experience. A key topic that panelists universally agreed on was the importance of data to retailers and how, when used correctly, it can help create a personalized experience for consumers.
"Data is key for us because it helps us understand who our customers are," said panelist Christophe Garnier, president and chief marketing officer at Totsy, a private-sale site focused on babies and kids’ products. "We use data to make sure the content in emails we send every day to our members are relevant and that each customer is getting a different email. This is important to us since email accounts for 75 percent of our revenue."
Data is also used to personalize web experiences for visitors to Totsy.com. "Our website is starting to provide different experiences for the moms coming to our site based on who they are," Garnier said.
Another panelist, Perry Cooper, the chief marketing officer at Rue La La, echoed Garnier's statements. "Personalization is a key strategic imperative at Rue," he said. "There can't be enough personalization in retail and e-commerce today, frankly. Everyone in the space is either working towards having specific personalization programs in place, building a relational database so they can create these types of programs, or rebuilding or augmenting their current databases."
Retailers are also turning to social networks as a channel that can be mined for data. Totsy, for example, gathers a lot of data and feedback from its Facebook page, and then uses that data to decide how certain aspects of the company or its website can be changed or improved, Garnier said.
Social gaming was another topic discussed by the panel.
"We're always looking at different social gaming platforms, like Farmville, as place to promote our company," said Rue La La's Cooper. "But it's one of 59 different touchpoints we're focusing on." In addition, he said that Rue La La has to be careful when selecting a gaming platform to make sure it matches the company's brand messaging. "Our brand is delicate," Cooper said.
Totsy is spending a part of its marketing budget on social gaming as well. "A lot of moms are online now playing games, so we feel it's a great way to get them engaged with our brand," said Garnier. For example, he discussed TV and web retailer HSN, which launched HSN Arcade last year as a way to entice shoppers to spend more time on HSN.com. HSN Arcade features video games that consumers can play for free while they watch a live stream of HSN’s television channel. "This is a way to get better stickiness on a website," Garnier said.