Why is it that personalization can mean so many things to so many people? Why do some companies see immediate value while others are left scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss is about? To get some real perspective on the matter I took long-time Qubit customer Violaine Muras, Global Digital Director of OPI Products, owned by Coty Inc. to lunch.
Violaine, a French national, now living and working in Los Angeles has worked in ecommerce roles since 2008. Brand experience includes time at fashion retailers Burberry, Avenue 32 and Sweaty Betty. Violaine has been at OPI since January 2017.
Nick: Thanks for joining me today Violaine. How are you enjoying life in LA? I imagine the geographic move from London has been as big as your move from fashion to cosmetics!?
Vio: I’m loving the LA lifestyle. What’s not to like between the sea, the sun and the great outdoors? Of the 2—LA vs. London, fashion vs. cosmetics—I miss fashion more than the grey skies of London!
N: You’ve worked at a number of different companies at varying stages in their digital maturity, have you always looked at personalization through the same lens or did it differ depending on the company?
V: Motivations for personalization varied per brand and audience, but the strategic principles always stay the same.
At its core, personalization is about understanding who your customer is. For me, it starts with the content and the brand experience: what does the brand stand for? how does that translate to digital? what content and experiences are you going to serve to your customers in order to create an affinity with the brand and drives purchases?
At OPI we have 2 key audiences. We have a consumer audience and a professional audience, both engaging with the brand in unique ways. They have different requirements for us and we, therefore, need to serve them content based on their behaviors, preferences and intent. That’s core.
This is true of our product as well. A nail artist or nail salon manager will have a totally different approach to shopping when compared to our consumer audience. The nail artist will want bulk replenishment on core lines and they want it fast. Personalization is that enabler to get them in front of the most relevant products as quickly as possible.
For consumers, driving impulse purchases is a key area where personalization can be used. For example, adding messaging layers on products to show what’s trending, as well as algorithmic product recommendations based on browsing and purchasing behavior.
N: What would you say have been the biggest learnings from personalization initiatives you have run?
V: Two things
One, don’t get stuck on big projects, little quick wins can have a huge impact.
Two, empower your team by creating a ‘test and learn’ culture. Incorporate personalization and A/B testing into every initiative—it’s key to driving disruptive growth.
N: Have you found it challenging to get other teams bought into personalization? What tips would you give to people reading this?
V: Ha yes!
It’s crazy to say, but it’s still challenging to get companies to think digital-first. A lot of retailers assume that ecommerce is a free door, so it can be a real challenge to get investment into your personalization program.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to business growth. My tips would be:
- Create tension - this is where we are, this is where we want to get to, these are the blockers, you’re going to show them how personalization can help
- Keep it simple - if you’ve got to convince your leadership team to invest in a personalization tool, chances are they are not very tech savvy so use everyday language
- Use examples - extract a few practical problems that the personalization tool can help resolve. Like I said, little quick wins can have a huge impact.
- Show them the money - it’s difficult to forecast an uplift in sales before you start using the product, but case studies on similar websites go a long way.
N: To truly scale personalization it requires a dual strategy, one that leans on automated AI-powered 1:1 experiences, and the other on highly customized segment driven experiences. The latter requires resources, which are not always in abundance. How should more resource-constrained businesses be thinking about personalization?
V: Resources can be an issue because building complex experiences require a degree of technical know-how that your average brand doesn’t typically have in-house. I always look for technology that also has dedicated account support. This is how I’ve worked with Qubit on a number of brands.
I use and have used, Qubit as an extension of my team. By sharing our business objectives, we could strategize about the experiences and personalizations which would align with those objectives and then build them.
If you have an in-house team dedicated to personalization, many of the experiences can be built with a good knowledge of a platform like Qubit Pro. However, I would recommend sending your team on a coding course as invariably, on some more complex builds, that skillset will be invaluable.
N: What are you currently focusing on at OPI?
V: Right now, we can’t sell direct to the consumer, so we’re integrated with Amazon and rolling out that marketplace internationally. For that reason we started on Qubit’s basic package which was allowed us to focus on more basic optimization.
We’re now focusing on how we can scale more automated personalization. To do this we’re setting up the ability to collect more browsing data, for example when a user clicks on ‘Checkout with Amazon’, against the email collected in a current or previous session. This is going to allow us to launch product recommendations as well as social proof badging on our PLP’s as well as low stock notifications on product pages. We’re also excited to be trialling Qubit Aura which is a mobile focused product discovery technology.
And finally, in terms of the little things:
- We’re adding a pop-up to our nail lacquer and long wear polish color pages, prompting the visitors who add a bottle of nail polish to their basket, to potentially also purchase the top and base coat that goes with it.
- We’re building a promotional code banner for National Nail Polish Day
- And we’re altering navigation to show gifts on 50% of traffic to see if it creates an uplift in conversions.
Little things, BIG IMPACT!