Recapping the all-star pitches from our first-ever Customer Success hackathon
During our inaugural Customer Success-led hackathon, teams spanning the globe pitched their best ideas for online-to-offline strategies for personalization success.
Earlier this month, our Customer Success team organized and participated in its first company hackathon, collaborating with folks across departments to whip up their most innovative ideas laddering up to the event theme: The intersection of offline, online, and audiences.
The seven participating teams brought their A-game, conducting 30-45 minutes presentations to a cross-departmental panel, sharing the problems they are addressing, mockups or live demos of the solutions they’ve built, as well as how their strategies can be tailored to different target audiences. These ideas ranged from conceptual and experimental to nearly ready-to-launch and focused on bringing tangible value to customers looking to level up how they deliver personalized experiences to their users both online and in-store.
The result of the hackathon was a number of innovative use cases, product features, and concepts, varying in complexity. And because these concepts all focused on connecting offline and online experiences, we saw some overlap in strategy or hardware needs, with a few key themes emerging, which I’ll walk through below.
The potential of QR codes
As we’ve seen the resurrection of QR codes over the last year as a result of COVID-19, it’s no surprise the adoption has resulted in more widespread use case development for implementations beyond accessing restaurant menus. And with more than half of in-store shoppers reportedly using mobile devices to research products while browsing merchandise in brick-and-mortar shops, there’s not much of a learning curve to get shoppers to use smartphones even more while shopping in-person.
Half of the hackathon pitches revolved around a QR use case, requiring in-store shoppers to scan a code either upon entering a store or while browsing items around a store. Team Hack to the Future pitched the use of QR codes on product price tags that redirects the user to the store’s mobile app, where they are then presented with a number of offers and information, such as expedited checkout, inventory numbers, access to a store site map to find an item they see on the app, and more. Team Waterfalls and Rainbows developed a concept where users scan a QR code in-store to redirect them to the mobile app, where they can then scan items on their phone, add items to their carts, view product recommendations, or even pay online. And Team En Vogue envisioned QR codes as a vehicle for catalyzing newsletter sign-ups, offering users discounts for the immediate or the future in exchange for opting in, helping the retailer identify user intent and affinity depending on when they decide to use the discount and for which products.
Mockup of Team En Vogue’s QR code + landing page prompt after scanning
Arming in-store associates with technology
While technology providers can recommend products for offline shoppers using mobile apps and more, there’s still something special about a human recommendation. In-store associates can suggest items according to a shopper’s expressed objectives, taste, and seasonality with an extra personal touch, which is why a number of teams pitched hardware that can be used by employees to facilitate the customer journey in-store while continuing to link these interactions to users’ digital profiles.
Team No Problem Factory pitched a tablet app that store associates use to help customers find alternative products in-store if an item they came looking for is out of stock, unavailable in their size, or no longer suits them. The shopper simply provides the store associate with their email address, allowing them to access their user profile and tailor their in-store suggestions according to the user’s affinities, better contextualize their recommendations, and help the shopper find relevant alternatives quickly. Meanwhile, Team UnDYniable wanted to take advantage of one of the main reasons users still shop in-store: to try items on. By implementing a “Schedule a Fitting” call-to-action button on-site, businesses would be able to prepare a fitting room before a user arrives in-store. Additionally, using an app, store associates would be able to access user profiles in real-time to offer additional recommendations or suitable alternatives to appointment holders once they’ve started a fitting.
Mockup of Team UnDYniable’s fitting room sign up experience on-site
Championing customer loyalty
A couple of teams identified key issues many retailers face while attempting to attract customers and keep them coming back for the long term. The first focuses on product returns, which not only is an unpleasant (and often time-consuming) experience for the end-user, but also an operational nightmare for the business. Team Audience Influencers pitched tapping into product return data – whether a user returned an item in-store or by mail – to better segment users according to the number of returns they complete. Additionally, brands would be able to tailor online recommendations to exclude frequently returned items, prompt users to fill out a survey about a recent return to pinpoint the cause, serve frequent returners with size guide calculators on product detail pages, and more. By facilitating the product discovery process more intimately, the brand would be able to increase the likelihood of purchase satisfaction, earning them more goodwill and encouraging brand loyalty, while also decreasing the number of returns the brand processes.
Meanwhile, Team Party Parrot was more interested in encouraging users to engage with them in every environment, using emails to incentivize in-store shoppers to complete an online purchase and offline converters to take advantage of online-only offers. And for the percentage of shoppers who have completed purchases both online and in-store, email campaigns encourage newsletter sign-up boxes to keep the user up-to-date on the latest inventory additions, gain early access to online and offline sales, and browse affinity-based recommendations to keep them coming back.
Mockup of an audience segment brands could create in the Dynamic Yield platform using Team Audience Influencer’s pitch
Linking online and offline activity can leader to richer customer experiences
Even as COVID-19 has catalyzed a shift to digital, many consumers continue to shop in-store to some extent, and how they behave in-store can influence how they interact with a brand online. Every moment a user engages with a brand is an interesting moment that should be taken into consideration when delivering personalized experiences, and these seven teams proved there’s still so much more that businesses can do to capture and leverage this data to deliver the best possible experience across every channel. By having more access to data, teams can begin developing more complex and effective segmentation strategies, ensuring they connect with users on a more personal level.
Each team evangelized how linking online and offline data can empower businesses to build new personas, develop new custom audiences, and target users based on different levels of engagement, and I’m proud of our Customer Success team (and their hackathon teammates from across the organization) for bringing their A-game to conceptualize the true and vast potential of personalization. I hope you find inspiration in these concepts and that it encourages you to think bigger about omnichannel experience creation. In the meantime, we’ll be picking apart each of these concepts to bring more to our product and our customers to help them solve new challenges with innovative solutions. (And of course, a special congratulations goes to Team No Problem Factory for taking home the first-place prize!)