A few weeks ago, the Jason & Scot Show, a weekly podcast dedicated to the rapidly evolving world of eCommerce, set up at ShopTalk with Director of E-Commerce and Digital Marketing at SABON NYC, Katya Ermak.
If you aren’t familiar, SABON is a global boutique chain that offers an unparalleled range of exceptional bath and body products. With over 200 stores in 9 countries and expanding, SABON is a truly international brand, appreciated by well-known designers and a wide consumer audience worldwide.
Listen in as host, Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg, the VP of Commerce at RazorFish, and Scot Wingo, Founder and Executive Chairman of Channel Advisor get the on scoop on what vertically integrated brands like SABON think of Amazon, how it’s approaching omnichannel, and the tools in its tech stack that are enabling growth.
Or, find some of the most exciting bits (on the topic of personalization) from the episode which we’ve highlighted for you, below.
On Enabling Experiences for Shoppers
[10:52] Jason Goldberg: One of the things that was interesting to me about being on the show, is that, if I have this right, you were one of the very early users of Dynamic Yield. Dynamic Yield is a software tool for doing personalization based on AI deep learning. Here at ShopTalk, those are the big buzz words, personalization and AI, and so I was just curious what kind of experiences you were enabling for your shoppers with Dynamic Yield? Is it just email? Is it on your site? How’s that going for you?
Katya Ermak: Sabon was a very early adopter of Dynamic Yield when they just started out. At Sabon, we love Dynamic Yield, and we pretty much do everything with them that could potentially be done. We’re utilizing their platform…. we just rolled out in August, product recommendations on our home page, on mobile, on our product pages, in the cart. We also serve banners — all of our banners on the website were served through Dynamic Yield. We do A/B testing, we use affinity… and we saw an uplift of about 30% when we just rolled them out, in conversion rate and customer satisfaction.
I think there are so many things that you can do with Dynamic Yield and strategies that you can implement. I’m constantly seeing case studies that they’re releasing or how they work with their other clients. We’re on a smaller scale of what we can do and what we can execute — there are so many things, but execution part, we’re a smaller team at Sabon, so it’s a little bit harder.
We started with the product personalization on our homepage, A/B testing and sort of personalizing it by customers who visit the website, and then Dynamic Yield recommended we switch to an affinity strategy with machine learning and recommending products that way. And we see tremendous increases in sales and conversion.
We’ve test different pages, we’ve tested forms, so like, how many different fields you can have and which one converts better. So, before we’re releasing anything on the website, experience-wise for customers, we always test. We always create three or four scenarios and we test which one performs better. Same goes for all of our banners, all the copy we do for the banners, and different calls to action, and different images, and different backgrounds. It’s opening up so many opportunities to learn who your customer is and what they like. Kind of a learning curve, it’s not a platform that you just kind of start and it’s doing the things for you. You constantly need to learn how to perform those tasks, but it’s opened up a big door in personalization and making the customer experience very personal for them.
An example of an A/B test Sabon ran during Black Friday which included a variety of different holiday offers. Read the whole case study.
Scott Wingo: I’m not a personalization expert, so maybe you guys can answer this. So does it learn, okay this particular customer loves lavender, and then it’ll show them more of that, kind of thing? I know it sounds like you got some A/B optimization testing stuff, but the personalization, does it learn what people like, and then it changes the website based on those learnings?
Katya Ermak: Right, so every single person who comes to the website, they click and we can tell what journey did they have on our website, what kind of banners did they click on, what kind of products they looked up since they looked up the exfoliating products or one of the moisturizing products, did they make a purchase, did they add to the cart, what was their cart value.
And based on that information, the next time they come back, we’re gonna serve them a different experience, which could be anything. We can recommend them a product if they were adding something to the cart but they didn’t purchase. And then they come back, maybe we show them the product with the potential deal that they can get for that. Or, if they weren’t on the product page and they added something else to the cart, we’ll show them a similar product in the cart, as well. There’s a lot of different scenarios that you can think about in how to personalize.
Scott Wingo: Get it. Is this married to Magento or a works within him?
Jason Goldberg: No no no, it’s a SaaS-based tool that you can implement in a wide variety of platforms. I think you guys are in fact running it on Magento, though. What’s cool to me, is, we’ve had personalization for a long time, where the better you get to know the customer over multiple sessions, you can start to be more relevant to that customer. That’s still really important, for most sites though, the majority of visitors are first-time visitors. So, where a lot of personalization has historically fallen down is, every customer is unknown, so they get the same generic experience and your best customers that come back over and over get this personalized experience. But, they’re a small percentage of the total traffic. So, where these tools are getting much better now, is what I’ll call in-context, in-session personalization, where they infer implicit signals from the browsing you’re doing in the single session, and start dynamically personalizing, even for those unknown, first-time visitors.
Magento is a trusted partner of Dynamic Yield.
Scott Wingo: Got it.
Katya Ermak: That’s correct. In a regular scenario, when the customer performs some sort of action, like they subscribe to our newsletter, click to the body scrub, added something to the cart, we’re gonna serve them a different experience based on already what they’re seeing.
Scott Wingo: Sounds like it’ll also work with display ads, which is cool, how about your email marketing? Can it personalize your email marketing? So, some lady likes a certain scent, you can send her — or she had something in her cart, well that’s probably easy with the cart abandonment emails, but…
Katya Ermak: Right.
Scott Wingo: Any personalization? Can you personalize the emails you send out, too?
Katya Ermak: You can put the Dynamic Yield widget inside of your email and you can serve them. So, you have your content of the email, like your promotion and content, and down at the bottom you can show products, specifically selected for that customer.
Scott Wingo: So, often that’s the first way that the tools get used. It’s easier to implement just for email than it is for the whole platform, so very often that’s the test. And the cool, new feature that these guys are all starting to roll out now, is personalization at open. So, you can imagine you send an email and you add some personalized content in there that maybe has been personalized to the weather or something you browsed for.
Katya Ermak: Based on time — so, for example, if we’re running a promotion or some sort of deal or sale, while the promotion is running, you’re gonna see a clock down. So, you open up your email and you can see a clock down that says like, “this promotion is going to end in one hour” if you open it in 30 minutes, it’s gonna say, “the promotion is going to end in the 30 minutes” and when the promotion ends, like for example, let’s say I missed that and I open the email after a week, it’s gonna show me something completely different.
Jason Goldberg: Okay, very cool.
Scott Wingo: Versus like, often you send them a personal email and it’s stale when the person opens it.
For more information about how Dynamic Yield can personalize experiences for your own customers, request a personal demo with an expert from our team.