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Q&A: Aaron Magness, VP of marketing at Coastal.com

Aaron Magness joined Coastal.com last October as VP of marketing. He is charged with expending the eyewear e-tailer’s digital experience. He previously served as senior director of brand marketing and business development at Zappos.com.

Q: How important is it to use data to personalize e-commerce?

A: There’s no point in telling a 65-year-old woman what would be great for a 16-year-old boy. So it’s how you [can] do a better job targeting, understanding who your customers are and then translating that into relevant information.

Q: How are you using databases to create that shopping environment?

A: One of our biggest investments this year as part of our business intelligence review is a huge IT project. We’ll be able to continue to build on our efforts to have a rather unique and personalized shopping experience based on the method that is bringing you to the site. Say, in a display ad campaign, we have various executions. If you click on the one ad that’s women’s reading glasses but someone else clicks on men’s progressive glasses, when you come to the site you should be served up relevant product and content. If you’ve been to the site before, we understand your browsing patterns and we will try to serve up the most relevant content. Different points of entry do allow for different kinds of relevant content to be served to you.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in leveraging databases: shoppers’ reluctance to share information or handling the mass of data?

A: I think it’s a little bit of both. It’s getting through the noise and getting to what’s really important. There’s a common phrase called “analysis paralysis.” It’s picking out what’s most important and then  getting to that information.

Data drives e-commerce

Retailers delve deep into their quantitative and qualitative consumer data to position brands and create rich customer experiences and personalized communications.

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Q: How big of a factor is mobile and tablet shopping?

A: That’s a piece of the puzzle that’s difficult to understand because it’s difficult to track what someone is doing on their phone versus what someone is doing something on their laptop. As platforms develop to allow that to be more intuitive, I think it will be much simpler. It goes back to the experience. You can use the same argument about the 16-year-old boy and the 65-year-old woman. You also don’t want to force a desktop experience on someone who just wants to shop using a tablet. I do believe in the not-too-distant future, maybe a few years out, the definition of mobile versus not mobile will be gone. At that point it’s just a device. Just like people don’t put a huge focus on browsing on a Mac versus a PC, mobile will just be about computing, and where that ends up taking us is pretty exciting.

Q: What do you see in the market overall?

A: I think where the game has gone and will continue to get better is: There used to be a time when an online retailer had the same experience for everyone. You and I are very different, but when we came to the site we had the same exact experience. Where we’re at right now is much more personalized. And where we’re going now it’s going to be even more personalized.

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