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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

The competitive advantage Australian retailers have over Amazon

With all of the hype around Amazon, many online retailers have been trying to understand how they can compete with the American retail giant.

Joel Milligan

Performance manager, Columbus Agency

How to become the customer experience custodian

The number one objective enterprises give for embarking on a digital transformation is to improve customer experiences with new engagement models, according to IDC’s 2017 global study.

Fear not: It's only a robot

Every time I pass through the automated border controls at the Sydney airport I walk away with a feeling of exasperation on the one hand and relief on the other. Exasperation, because the face recognition technology inevitably always fails to recognise me. Relief, because we seem to be safely years away from the Orwellian reality of states controlling every aspect of our lives; something the media is keenly warning us against each day.

Dan Kalinski

CEO, iProspect Australia and New Zealand

I worked at Momentum when the transformation started way back in 2013 (not 2015 as stated in the article). It was a painfully slow and co...

Jay

How Momentum Energy has transformed its entire business to be customer-led

Read more

Another buzzword thoughtlessly latched onto, without any thought for the implications on the organisations that have to lumber through th...

Tired

Rolling out agile marketing at Deakin

Read more

Useful., also don’t miss out on these 5 features of Adobe Experience Cloud - Visit here > http://www.softcrylic.com/b...

Sunil Joseph

Adobe debuts Advertising Cloud, Experience Cloud

Read more

the systems that run these things are teachable just like a car, theres stuff still yet to come out to bring up the automation grade, b...

Magnus Robert Carl Wootton

Fear not: It's only a robot - Big data delivery - CMO Australia

Read more

Marin Software’s digital marketing solution as a short way of streamlining and finding a scalable solution...

Al Drazhev

How BizCover is boosting search advertising success

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in