Z Gallerie gets personal with style
There are a lot of options in decorating a home, and Los Angeles-based specialty home furnishings retailer Z Gallerie wants to match its offerings to customer tastes.
“We’ve been known for one particular style which our customers love and that we’ve done quite well with,” said Chris Nicklo, VP of customer and chief marketing officer of Z Gallerie, during an interview with Chain Store Age. “But to grow, we knew we would need to appeal to a broader spectrum of customers.”
The 60-store Z Gallerie decided to create “Style Personalities” that would tailor product assortments to different customer aesthetics. The retailer determined it could support five separate aesthetics – Glamorous Regency (its original aesthetic), Calmly Collected, Trend Twist, Urban Modernist, and Naturally Luxe. The Style Personalities are promoted across digital ads, email, Web, store and social channels.
“Since we don’t have sophisticated personal recommendation tools, we developed an online quiz,” said Nicklo. “We engage the customer like you would on social media. They tell us their style preferences and we match them to one of the five Style Personalities – one primary and two flanking.”
Once a customer’s Style Personality has been determined, they then receive a series of three emails. The first explains what a Style Personality is, the second shows select products from their assigned aesthetics, and the third encourages them to follow and participate in Z Gallerie’s pages on social sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.
“Social is a huge part of our success,” explained Loren Mattia, content marketing manager of Z Gallerie. “We showcase different personalities with user-generated content.”
Z Gallerie also integrates social media into its five in-house-developed custom landing pages that support each one of the Style Personalities. The pages include social content from Pinterest and Houzz, as well as shoppable user-generated images from Instagram.
Leveraging the Fanreel user-generated content solution from visual marketing technology provider Curalate, Z Gallerie allows customers to make purchases directly from Instagram photos uploaded by other customers.
“User-generated content is huge in the marketplace right now,” commented Mattia. “We get a ton of submissions from customers using our products in their homes”
Of the 100,000 consumers who have signed up for Style Personalities so far, about 44,000 have been new customers. At the highest points, customer engagement with digital display ads featuring personalized product images has run five times higher than normal, and personalized texts have doubled normal engagement rates.
Overall, personalized digital display ads have 1.5 times normal engagement. Average order value (AOV) for customers who engage with the Style Personalities program is 1.4 times higher than normal AOV.
Looking ahead, Z Gallerie plans to refine its personalized merchandising process. The retailer also plans to improve the Style Personalities user experience as it switches to a new Aptos e-commerce platform later this year.
“Style Personalities will be more oriented to the top of the page,” said Mattia.
Top retail trends demonstrate tech-driven shifts
Retailers looking for evidence that technology has become a pre-eminent influencer on their industry need look no further.
A market brief from consumer financial services company Synchrony Financial, “10 Things to Know – the Top 10 Retail Trends for 2016,” identifies eight technology-driven developments on its list. In addition to the emergence of new retail holidays and increased spending on pets, the eight IT-focused trends are:
- Wearable Technology: From headsets and smartwatches to fitness and health devices, shoppers are using wearable technology for ease of accessing product and store information, offers, and speed of payment.
- Voice Technology: Up to four times faster than type-and-click, voice-enabled search signals a shift in how consumers find product and service information. At the same time, Synchrony predicts innovations in language recognition will give voice a bigger role in online commerce, retail search strategies, and shopper engagement.
- Virtual Reality (VR) in the Shopping Experience: Virtual reality immerses consumers in sensory and personalized experiences, enabling them to interact with products and services. Mobile devices capable of delivering rich VR experiences can bring store experiences to the consumer in any location.
- Video Streaming: Growing video-on-demand traffic and the higher likelihood of shoppers to purchase a product after watching a video provides opportunities for retailers to consider online streaming video for product demos, display or customer service.
- Internet of Things: Millions of devices are being deployed and connected in the retail environment to collect and send data that provides valuable real-time insights.
- Mobile and Alternative Payments: As retailers transition terminals and develop e-commerce platforms to engage with shoppers and accept new payment methods, consumers are adopting mobile wallet apps, branded wallets, and smartwatches and devices with payment capabilities.
- Social Network Buy Buttons: Largely driven by growing mobile usage, retailers are providing shoppers with easier functionality to purchase within a social app by adding Buy buttons that allow users to shop directly on their sites.
- Personalization: Data, tools and technology are making it possible to understand customer preferences and deliver personalized offerings, in addition to product selection and prices.
Study: How quickly are retailers implementing EMV?
It has been roughly four months since the Oct. 1, 2015 liability mandate for U.S. retailers to adopt EMV – how much progress has been made?
The answer is not all that much, at least according to a recent survey. Management consulting firm The Strawhecker Group (TSG) recently surveyed 92 payment processing providers who, together, service about half of U.S. retailers that accept card payments. Results indicate about 37% of U.S. retail locations are EMV-ready. That figure is close to 10% below the 40% compliance rate predicted in a September 2015 survey of the same payment processors.
By June 2016, it is estimated that consumers will be able to use their EMV credit and debit cards at 50% of U.S. retail locations. EMV-readiness is not expected to reach a threshold of least 90% of U.S. retail locations until 2017 – more than 15 months after the shift.
TSG found that the three biggest hurdles slowing EMV implementation are payment processor readiness, gateway readiness, and technical staff resource availability. In addition, nearly 40% of respondents felt that media coverage had a negative impact on their EMV implementation efforts.
“It appeared that some merchants delayed EMV migration completely until the holiday season ended to prevent friction and confusion at the checkout line,” said Jared Drieling, business intelligence manager at TSG. “I suspect that many merchants that have delayed, especially merchants in higher risk categories, felt the impact of the liability shift last year and we’ll see them aggressively ramp up plans to migrate.”
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