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eTail West 2015 Recap: “It’s Just Shopping”

“It’s just shopping,” said Jason Feldman, President, DTC of Hanes Brands during his Keynote speech at eTail West in Palm Springs last week. He was referring to the omni-/multi-/cross-channel browsing/buying behaviors exhibited by their customers. He went on to explain that his customers are simply finding the fastest/easiest way to get smart about a purchase decision and then complete the transaction.

As retailers, it’s our job to do just that -- give our customers multiple routes to inform and facilitate purchasing, so they can choose whichever route is fastest/easiest for them, wherever they may be and whatever their needs are. That statement is a bit of a no-duh, but the execution is hard. This means creating experiences that are not only user-friendly, but work on a plethora of devices. This means ensuring data is the same regardless of channel, and being accurately passed back-and-forth. This means that the experiences online should compliment the experience in-store, and vice-versa. This also means going above and beyond to give the consumer the right information at the right time and in the right context.

To some, this simply means providing a cohesive, valuable experience online and off. Omni-channel, if you will. But retailers in attendance at eTail came looking for more.

Make Magical Moments
Elissa Margolis, SVP & GM of the Disney Store, spoke in the following session, the Keynote Panel entitled “Staying Competitive In A Rapidly Evolving Retail World As A Multi-Channel Organization.” During this panel, the topic quickly turned to Amazon. “There’s nothing Magical about an Amazon experience,” she said. It won’t be a shock to anyone to hear that Disney puts the user experience front and center.

Margolis wasn’t the only one strategizing on how to compete with Amazon via the user experience. In the next session Dave Weissman, President of Target’s Dermstore, spoke about creating a point of differentiation as the only way to compete with Amazon. “There’s no more first mover advantage,” he said. You have to “own your own sliver” and weave your value prop throughout the user experience, both online and off.

Personalization is a Brand Initiative, not a Digital one
Personalization was a huge topic of conversation at eTail, and a thread woven throughout most sessions. There were sessions on personalization for those just getting into the game, best practices for optimizing, and great case studies of brands going all-in.

bebe literally bet the future of the company on personalization, and appears to be winning. Erik Lautier,
EVP & Chief Digital Officer of bebe, used the highly-personal in-store approach to set the model for the future of bebe with the hopes of turning around the company, which hadn’t seen a profitable quarter in over 2 years.

Being new to the personalization space, Lautier knew his team at bebe needed to learn to crawl before they ran, so they started with simple A/B homepage testing. They tested homepage videos, the free shipping threshold, and messaging. After learning to crawl, they progressed to walking and pulled in geolocation to test estimated delivery dates and in-language welcome banners.

There wasn’t a soul in the room who didn’t believe in personalization. However, believing there would be results and seeing them are two completely different things, and the whole room silenced as Lautier went through his:

  • 22% increase in Revenue per Visitor (RPV) by increasing the Free Shipping threshold to $100
  • 2.3% increase in RPV by adding a geo-specific estimated delivery date to the product page
  • 2.4% increase in conversion rate by adding a geo-specific welcome banner in-language to the homepage
  • 1.3% increase in conversion rate by adding a geo-specific store locator
  • All-in, the tweaks and changes equaled an 18% increase in conversions year over year on desktop, and a whopping 93% increase in mobile. bebe was finally profitable again.

And they’re not done. Now they’re starting to add in more granularity, and are starting to speak to their customers in the appropriate context. For example, they’re promoting best sellers to new customers and new arrivals to repeat visitors, and showing sweaters for visitors from New England and short skirts to visitors from Southern California.

Technology as an Enabler
When Jamil Ghani, VP of Enterprise Strategy at Target, got up to give his keynote about ‘Defining the New Retail Experience’ on day 2, he spoke about using technology as a differentiator and an enabler. To really put the customer first, Target needed to address the new customer needs, and shift their view away from store-first to mobile-first. Their new approach is to consider mobile as the front door to Target, and the first touch to the consumer.

They rebuilt their digital experience from the ground up to support this new approach and new shopping journey, which begins on mobile. They found that $0.36 of every dollar spent in store was influenced online. Guests who use the Target mobile app go in store a whopping 4 times more often than those who don’t. With their new technology ecosystem firmly in place, Target is fulfilling on the consumers desires to “just shop.”

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