5 Personalization Lessons from Alice + Olivia

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How the women's apparel brand leverages personalization and optimization—and what marketers can learn from its experience.


Photo source: Alice + Olivia

Fashion reflects people's styles and doesn't follow a one-size-fits-all model. Marianna Satanas, VP of e-commerce for Alice + Olivia, believes a brand's shopping experience should be the same. She's aiming to tailor the in-store and online experiences of the women's apparel and accessories brand by relying on personalization and optimization. She shared how she's doing just that at an event hosted by Alice + Olivia's personalization platform provider Qubit in New York last week. Here are five lessons retailers and marketers can learn from the brand's experience.

1) Invest in the right user experience design

Alice + Olivia has already done a lot of homepage optimization in terms of product recommendations and plans to enhance its product discovery, filtering, and navigation capabilities this year. It's also investing in a lot of creative capital and assets to ensure that the website's imagery resonates with Alice + Olivia's customer base, which can range in age from 18 to 65 years old.

“Imagine talking to all of those customers with the same asset,” Satanas said.

2) Test, learn, and optimize

On the day of the event, Satanas said that the brand had 24 experiments running on its website. One recent test, she cited, compared whether clothes worn on a model performed better than clothes laid against a flat white screen.

“At the moment, we are seeing a 3% uplift in flats,” she said. Although, she later told DMN that these results are still inconclusive because the brand just started running this test. 

She also said the brand experimented with “badging” to see if it could generate an increase in conversion. After running a test that included labeling some items as “exclusive” or “best sellers,” Alice + Olivia saw a 6.46% uplift in conversion, reinforcing that its customers respond well to these “merchandising nudges,” Satanas noted in her presentation.

3) Understand that different channels require different customer acquisition tactics

When it comes to acquiring new customers, Satanas said retailers need to be smart and use different tactics for different channels. Look at how Alice + Olivia's email acquisition experiences differ from mobile (left) to desktop (right), for instance.

 
Photo source: Alice + Olivia


Satanas herself is "very much a mobile-first kind of girl."

4) Consider new technology

While it can be tempting to purchase the next shiny, new object, Satanas said retailers shouldn't just purchase technology for technology's sake. “It's actually tech to improve the customer experience in-store and online,” she said.

The virtual fitting room Alice + Olivia intends to test this year is an example of using technology to create a better customer experience.

When it comes to ordering clothes online, Satanas admits that determining the right size isn't always a great experience. The virtual fitting room would allow Alice + Olivia customers to create avatars, input their measurements, and add items to their virtual fitting rooms as they scroll through different product pages. 

Customers could then try on clothes digitally and look at heatmaps to see where particular items are supposed to be more form-fitting and where they're supposed to hang more loosely. Alice + Olivia could then collect all of this data and even leverage machine learning to make recommendations. 

“It's based on the data that you've given us and [it's] also another way of using personalized recommendations,” Satanas said.

5) Develop a CRM strategy and leverage it across channels

Getting a single-view of the customer and speaking to her in a way that resonates is important, Satanas said. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. One way Alice + Olivia delivers a more personalized experience is by leveraging a tiered system across channels.

For instance, Alice + Olivia acknowledges who its top-tiered customers are by showing them its “VIP Picks” on its homepage. It also shows “new arrivals” to returning customers (see top image), “what's trending” images for new customers, and “just for you” picks for other signed-in customers, Satanas said. She also said that the brand will give top-tiered members “sneak peeks” into its new collections and give its most-engaged members early access to promotions.

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Correction May 31, 2017: Alice + Olivia does not currently have virtual fitting rooms, as previously stated. The brand intends to test them later this year. Also, Satanas later told DMN that the test comparing images of clothes worn by models to images of clothes laid against a flat screen was still inconclusive. Finally, Alice + Olivia intends to enhance its product discovery, filtering, and navigation capabilities this year. The story has been updated as a result.

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