Ahead of this year’s Internet Retailing Expo (IRX 2016) we’re running a series of previews focusing on event highlights, from the conferences to interviews with key retail speakers. Today we speak to Levi Young and Dana Zingher, founders of men’s online clothing service Enclothed.
Internet Retailing: You’re speaking at IRX 2016 about perfecting personalisation. In your experience what’s the single biggest challenge of making personalisation work and how did you overcome that at enclothed?
Levi Young: It’s about collecting that customer data that’s going to allow you to be personal to that customer but then also leveraging that data. So it’s about finding the most efficient way of collecting that data, and making sure the customer understands why they’re giving you that data, and getting the right data – but then it’s also how do you leverage that as a company, and use it to make things extremely personal and at mass scale? When we first started we were able to know every customer by name, but as you grow and get bigger and bigger it’s about how do you effectively use it, collect it, and get it back out to the customer to make it feel like a personal service?
Dana Zingher: We asked ourselves: how can you scale up data in a way that can appeal to the masses but still put the individual at its core? Every single touchpoint and system that we’ve built, we’ve built into our CRM system. The customer, that individual, is at the heart of what’s happening later in the chain, down to the warehouse management system. It still feeds back to that individual. Every single point of the chain really has started and also ends with that customer because of the way we’ve built it.
LY: It wasn’t enough to have a great digital marketing strategy or a great onboarding strategy, we had to incorporate that kind of personalisation across a whole business. Inventory towards that customer had to be attributed to a customer. We had to understand where everything was in relation to an individual customer, not customers as a whole. It was about making sure operations were in line with personalisation, not just marketing.
IR: That sounds like a big challenge. Have you dealt with it, and what benefits are you seeing?
DZ: Definitely. I think we got this to its optimal stage in the middle of last year. Now, not only do we have a unified view of the individual but whatever we gathered from him is affecting our choices for the next individual. It’s allowing the 360˚ view across the company, but to also see that person as an individual.
LY: I think we can see massive gains in monetising and serving our customers. By being able to anticipate a customer’s wants, likes and needs we’re able to give them a much more efficient service and hopefully gain better revenues and average transaction values for the business. I think we have a long way to go but I think we’ve made a very good first step and are happy with where the company is. Companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Google and Netflix, kind of ignited this revolution of recommendations and personalisation but we’re willing to give it a go. We now send out 900 boxes a month, each tailored to an individual, and not one box is the same. We’re hoping to get there!
IR: How do you see personalisation developing in the next few years to come?
LY: I think it’s just about fine tuning it. People are going to learn how to leverage that data a lot better. One challenge is finding the talent to help you leverage that data and integrate systems and make sure those digital touchpoints are now personal. People are going to refine it and get better and better. I think it will get to the point where we really do understand an individual by what they’re liking, clicking and swiping and that will get more and more accurate than what it was before. I think it’s such a revolutionising way of marketing.
DZ: I think personalisation has been a focus for the last five years, when people started talking about big data. Now people have become quite savvy in using these channels to get what they want. I believe that over time this is how we’re going to make our choices and purchases – with recommendations tailored to us as an individual rather than here’s a recommendation based on your one purchase through one channel. It’s going to be a 360˚ view of everything that we do.
IR: Apart from your own presentation, what are you most looking forward to at IRX 2016?
LY: I want to go to the Innovation Pavilion and see what start-ups and big organisations are doing. I think for me and Dana it’s about being around experts in these fields and finding out what the next thing is and whether we’re along the right lines and testing what we think and what other people think hopefully gaining some insight. I’m most excited about what everyone else has to say more than what I have to say, and hopefully picking up some great new ideas.
DZ: As a new company – only two years old – one thing we always cherish is someone else’s vision. We also want to find anything we can learn from – as an agile new company, we love to learn.
Levi Young and Dana Zingher are speaking in the Insight and Experience conference at IRX 2016. Their presentation, Perfecting personalisation – it’s not as easy as it looks!, is at 11.45am.
Find out more about IRX 2016 here. Register to visit the show for free here.