Gilt Groupe uses data to attract the next gen of fashion consumers

How a personalised approach to Web experience is helping drive sales and boost customer loyalty at the fashion retailer

A personalised approach to delivering tailored and relevant curated content will drive conversions and improve engagement for any multi-brand retailer, according to vice-president of marketing and analytics of Gilt Groupe, Welington Fonseca.

Speaking at the Online Retailer and Ecommerce Expo in Sydney, Fonseca revealed how the US-based apparel and home products retailer started out in 2007 and quickly revolutionised its personalisation strategy to attract more customers to its discount store. It now ranks 59 out of the top 500 Internet retailers, according to the Internet Retailer list.

“We combine a scarcity of products with great brand labels and excellent discounts,” Fonseca said. “And this has worked really well, the company has grown dramatically.”

In order to drive relevance to customers, Fonseca said the Gilt Groupe utilises both an individual and persona-level approach. This combines both personal buying behaviour with demographic information such as age, gender and geolocation.

“I think of relevance as based on two simple reasons,” he continued. “I think a high level of relevance is one of the key pillars of any successful brands, especially with a multi-brand retailer like Gilt, where you have competing stores and competing categories.”

Using an algorithmic approach to capture emails, social data and browsing behaviour from its customers, Gilt then tailors the Web experience to the needs of its different types of customers, such as those who come just for the big brands, or those who looking for a unique piece of clothing.

“All the data combined gives Gilt both store and brand affinity,” Fonseca claimed. “We also empower and enable our customers to share their preferences with us, so it’s not all about implicit data.”

About 50 per cent of sales come from mobile, which Fonseca claimed has been extremely powerful and transformational both for Gilt and his new venture, Rent the Runway.

“Mobile allows different forms of communication with your customers,” he said. “It also allows interactions that are more intimate and more private, like shopping for underwear or intimate apparel. It allows us to be very relevant to deliver on that specific category that you otherwise wouldn’t sell online using another device.”

The next generation want one-to-one personalisation, and Fonseca forecast social scrapbooking and curating personalised ecommerce content as becoming the next big things. He claimed 39 per cent of online consumers already use social media in their purchase path, and 67 per cent of online consumers consider clear photos more important than the product info or customer ratings.

“The number one driver on our satisfaction survey is all of our photos,” Fonseca said. “Customers want multiple views from different angles. They also want that textured experience they would have the bricks-and-mortar locations.”

Fonseca also said empowering customers to state their preference will become a requirement for a successful ecommerce platform moving forward.

“I truly believe empowering customers to also share those preferences will become the key to our success,” he added.

Fonseca’s 6 tips to achieve customer personalisation

  1. Find the right mix between implicit and explicit data. Using only implicit data is not enough.

  2. Enable preference-based personalisation across channels.

  3. Motivate and provide incentives to customers to provide ongoing feedback about the relevance of your offerings.

  4. Utilise every touch point to learn from customers.

  5. Provide all departments with customer preference information

  6. Empower customers to create and share their own content

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