TECHNOLOGY

Beauty retailer steps up personalization

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

French beauty brand L’Occitane en Provence is making a move to replicate its in-store shopping experience online.

To build more Web experiences that match the personal interactions customers receive in-store, L’Occitane is adding a personalization platform from Qubit. Called Quit Pro, the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered discovery solution is designed to drive more engaging experiences with the brand, regardless of channel they visit.

The platform analyzes behavioral and intent data, then uses results to deliver personalization campaigns. The solution has helped the retailer target experiences at scale, as well as collaborate and share best practices across multiple domains and locations, including Japan, Brazil, London, and Australia.

One technique used, called social proof, informs customers about how other, similar shoppers are behaving in their customer journeys. Based on this data, the retailer has seen a 2.86% uplift in revenue per visitor (RPV), and 3.55% uplift in revenue per customer (RPC) in the U.K. Strategies to save the customer before site abandonment resulted in 2.65% uplift in the United States.

In addition, L’Occitane is using Qubit Aura, a solution that sits on the brand’s existing mobile website, and changes the products a user sees based on their behavior. Information is delivered to shoppers in a social newsfeed-style experience. Since adding the tool, the brand’s U.K. e-commerce team reported 159% increase in mobile conversion rate.

“Our customers now expect the same personalized services they receive in-store online,” said Loanne Le Gac, e-business product coordinator at L’Occitane en Provence. “Our e-commerce team is committed to ensuring that’s the case, and on a worldwide scale. Qubit allows us to deliver a personalization program on multiple domains to ensure a consistent level of quality and service across channels.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Technical glitches have big impact on in-store experience—and return visits

BY Marianne Wilson

Shoppers have little patience for non-functioning WiFi and other in-store technologies that fail to deliver as promised.

Technology successes and failures are having a big impact on whether consumers return to a store or restaurant. According to a report by software and services provider Boomtown, 46% of consumers say that positive experiences due to well-functioning technology lead them to greater brand confidence and more frequent visits to the business (44%). Conversely, negative experiences due to malfunctioning technology result in a decline in brand confidence and less frequent visits to the business for 28% of consumers.

Consumers who frequent chain establishments over smaller businesses name technology as one of the key aspects of their in-store experience, with the most important tech features being a range of digital payment options (critical to 57% of consumers), online ordering & local pick up capabilities (50%), self-checkout options (49%), and such other digital offerings as in-store WiFi and real-time order information.

But the report also found that delivering a technology-driven customer experience can be fraught with risk. According to the survey, over 80% of consumers have encountered technical issues at retail stores and restaurants, and the consequences of a failed experience can be dire (including complaints, as well as a decline in business and brand reputation).

Other key findings from “The Digital Forward Customer Experience: New Expectations and Obstacles for Today’s Storefront” report include:

• After a positive experience involving technology, 63% of consumers will complement the location owner or refer the location to others.

• Over 80% of consumers have experienced a technical glitch (such as failed payment processing or non-functional Wi-Fi) as they shopped or dined; nearly 60% of consumers have encountered these technical glitches multiple times.

• Nearly 60% have encountered slow or malfunctioning electronic payment systems.

• One-in-three respondents (36%) has encountered faulty or unavailable WiFi or incorrect information online.

“These findings confirm that the digital transformation of the consumer experience is fully underway and that businesses – from small, regional shops or restaurants to national, consumer-facing chains – must invest in their technology to court and keep consumers,” said Alfred ‘Chip’ Kahn IV, CEO and founder of Boomtown. “But, investment in technology-driven customer experiences creates complexity and risk, offering the opportunity to please the customer but potentially imperiling customer relationships if the promise falls short.”

Respondents identified a strong preference for brands that make widespread use of advanced, reliable and intuitive technology. These brands, who are often called ‘digital forward’ and include Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Shake Shack, and Chipotle among others, are gaining the business and loyalty of consumers, the report said.

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon kicks off back-to-school shopping—with a special invite to teens

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Summer break is just getting underway across the nation, but Amazon is getting a jump on the back-to-school shopping season.

On Wednesday, the online giant launched its redesigned “Back to School” and new “Off to College” stores, two concepts that feature low-priced classroom supplies and dorm room essentials. Both online sections feature a curated selection of merchandise, and streamlined searches to locate items.

The Back to School store enables customers to shop for back-to-school essentials by grade or across popular categories, including school supplies; clothing, shoes & accessories; electronics; everyday essentials; toys & games, and deals. Amazon has also created a dedicated shop for educators where they can purchase classroom necessities directly from Amazon Business.

This year, Amazon is also offering a login for teens 13 through 17 years old, a move that enables them to create their own Amazon login under their parent’s account. Parents can approve all orders or set pre-approved spending limits. Parents who are Prime members can share select benefits with their teen at no additional cost, according to Amazon.

Amazon also hopes to target co-eds with its new Off to College store. Parents, students, and educators can browse “millions of items” across categories, including college essentials; textbooks; clothing, shoes & accessories; electronics; study supplies; home, and deals. Institutions can also purchase lab equipment, supplies, text books and academic journals, and items for trade or nursing schools on Amazon Business.

Customers can order merchandise online, through the Amazon App, and any Echo voice-assisted device. All orders can be shipped to customers’ homes, or sent to a secure Amazon pickup location on or near college campuses, Amazon said.

Back-to-school purchases are bound to get a boost from Amazon’s upcoming Prime Day shopping holiday. While the date has not been officially confirmed, Prime Day customers are already making their back-to-school shopping lists. In fact, 91% of customers who plan to shop that day will make a back-to-school-related purchase. They have also allotted $70 of their Prime Day budgets (an average of $167) toward back-to-school items, according to data from RetailMeNot.

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