Using big data for small business wins: I Love Linen's ecommerce story

We find out how one small Australian retailer is using customer analytics and insights to drive a new level of engagement across its online store

The term ‘big data’ conjures ideas of big data sets and even bigger budgets. But as one ecommerce entrepreneur has discovered, those same concepts can deliver big results even for a small business.

Lauren Roe cut her teeth working as a consultant in a customer analytics program for one of the big four banks. Her parents, however, had a background in retailing with the manchester retail business, I Love Linen, which launched in 1996 and grew to three stores in Brisbane.

When her father fell ill, putting a strain on both the family and the business, Roe trimmed back her hours with the bank to care for her father as well as help her mother with behind-the-scenes business activities. This led to her setting up I Love Linen’s online shop two years ago. Roe soon saw the opportunity to begin employing the same processes she was exposed to every day with the bank to online linen retailing.

“The program [at the bank] was all about having a better understanding of customers to service them effectively, based on time and product,” Roe tells CMO. “That’s a simple philosophy that any business should be using, big or small.”

It was a stint of maternity leave which then gave her the additional time she needed to put that philosophy into action for I Love Linen.

“You’ve got a pretty rich source of insights at your fingertips with an online business, because it is much easier to access purchase frequency of popular products,” Roe says.

Her use of analytics concepts to date has been simple but powerful, with purchasing behaviour used to aggregate customers into small groups who then receive targeted promotions for other relevant products.

“For example, if people have invested in pillows and quilts, they may not have tried any of the sheet sets and quilt covers that would complement their other purchases,” Roe says. “So there is a cross-sell opportunity. You isolate people who have purchased hotel bedding and send them an electronic direct mail to let them know we stock hotel-quality bed linen.

“It is just looking at purchase history, rather than just sending a blanket email that everyone gets. And the click through rate is a lot stronger when it’s tailored. And it shouldn’t be a surprise, because people respond better to information when they believe the sender has considered them before sending it.”

The I Love Linen website is based on the BigCommerce platform, which gives Roe sufficient capabilities to download sales data and cross reference it with customer behaviour. While she concedes her processes are not rocket science, she is also aware of only a small number of small business taking these simple steps.

“Maybe it’s a lack of time, or they don’t know how to cut the data,” Roe says. “For any small business that is online, where they have access to all of this sales data, you can ask yourself where the customer is going to be next on their purchasing journey. And they might not have even been aware that you sell other products.”

Read more: More marketing emails reaching Australian inboxes

Roe is an avid user of Google Analytics to monitor online page views, to compare visitor views to actual purchases, and fine tune her offer accordingly. She also retargets anonymous customers to ensure items consumers have looked at on her site remain front-of-mind even after they leave the site.

All up, Roe believes the targeted email activity only absorbs an additional five hours over each electronic direct mail cycle. “You just have to start to read the data and see what comes up,” she says. “You can find all of these interesting tidbits of information, which can lead to better opportunities for you and the customer as well.

Roe says the online site is taking as much revenue as any one of the three offline stores, despite being in operation for less than three years.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Is AI on course to take over human creativity?

Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

Are you leading technology changes or is technology leading you?

In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Thanks for picking this up. We are always happy to add richness to our products and in turn the lives of our followers and fans.

Fitbit Middle East

​Fitbit announces new virtual race platform to enhance customer experience

Read more

Thanks for a very interesting article. B2B marketing seems tricky. I think that marketing plays a vital part - it can build the brand and...

Aaren

From tactical overhead to strategic growth driver: B2B marketing in the digital age

Read more

meanwhile loads of people with digital skills are not finding work or getting an opportunity to be hired?? Double standards perhaps.

Graduate dying on centrelink

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

These laws are in one way or other giving businesses to VPN service providers & other cyber utilities. Just read PureVPN claiming 37%...

Paige Hudson

Getting prepared for mandatory data breach reporting

Read more

Great Post.Thanks for sharing such an informative article.I have worked with Ally Digital Media and it has a very good service which is b...

Utkarsh Kansara

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in