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Barneys gets closer to the customer

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – For the upscale, 33-store Barneys New York, customer experience is everything. Affluent shoppers buying high-priced merchandise have certain expectations beyond the availability of quality items, regardless of channel they choose.

“We want every customer to have an online experience personalized to their taste profile, preference and geography, just as we would do in our flagship stores,” Matthew Woolsey, executive VP of Barneys digital, told Chain Store Age.

The digital chief added that the emergence of millennial luxury shoppers, who want to know about where and how products are made, adds complexity to the task of omnichannel personalization.

“Personalization isn’t about how to best deliver a coupon; it is about how to best engage and build long-term relationships through story and heritage,” Woolsey explained.

To help ensure that online shoppers are exposed to the specific products and brand stories they are most interested in, Barney’s partners with omnichannel personalization provider RichRelevance to apply machine learning to customer experience and marketing.

“In luxury it isn’t enough to simply have Big Data, you must leverage it to drive discovery,” Woolsey explained. “Relying only on collaborative filtering – the science of, if you like this, then you’ll like that– isn’t true to Barneys or what our customer expects.”

Working with RichRelevance, Barneys enhanced the customer journey by enabling product discovery beyond collaborative filtering.

“Our technology team works with our merchants, fashion office, and editorial teams to create strategies and algorithms with RichRelevance that add a layer of human intelligence on top of big data,” said Woolsey.

Results have included customers who interact with personalized content converting at double the rate of Barneys’ site average. Barneys also partners with RichRelevance to deliver personalized search, delivering more personalized search results with the more time a consumer shops on Barneys.com. The retailer also refines personalization algorithms with account design trends, input from online “Barneys tastemakers” and other factors. Online shoppers who type products into the site search box convert 10 times more than other visitors to Barneys.com.

Looking ahead, Woolsey said Barneys will soon be focusing more on the mobile side of the omnichannel customer experience.

“In the first quarter of this year, we will be releasing responsive sites for Barneys.com and Barneys Warehouse, which will allow us to become one of the most personalized, mobile-driven sites in luxury,” Woolsey concluded.

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