TECHNOLOGY

CSA Exclusive: Adore Me gets personal with customers through AI

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Adore Me, the fast-growing intimate apparel brand, wants to get more personal with its customers — and it is using its customer reviews to do so.

Launched in 2012, the e-commerce startup is known for its affordable prices and on-trend stylings. Similar to other brands that have built a strong presence online, Adore Me now plans to move to the next level. Over the next five years, the retailer plans to open between 200 to 300 locations. The first 10 stores are planned to open this year.

In the competitive lingerie market, Adore Me aims to create an environment that “empowers women to embrace their uniqueness,” according to its website. Customer feedback, specifically details shared in its customer reviews, is critical to its strategy.

“Having a customer-centric strategy means reviewing and analyzing every piece of feedback we receive from customers, and making business decisions using  those insights,” Sandra Negra, reviews manager at Adore Me, told Chain Store Age. “We believe this is one of our key strengths, and attribute the growth and success of our brand to this approach.”

As the company continues to grow however, it is increasingly harder to maintain this level of intimacy with its customers. Negra spoke with Chain Store Age about how it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to mine customer-specific information from its reviews, as a means of strengthening its customer-centric strategy and growing its shopper base.

How do customer reviews contribute to Adore Me’s consumer-centric strategy?
In a retail landscape overwhelmed with competition, it’s extremely important for us to stand out and resonate with consumers by leveraging reviews to the furthest extent, for marketing — both offsite and on — and as valuable feedback. We take [customers’] direct input and use it to optimize customer experiences and product development, and adjust our marketing strategies based on what piques our customers’ interests.

What are the challenges in collecting customer reviews?
It’s a challenge to ensure a steady stream of reviews. Typically, companies can only get about 1% to 2% of customers to submit their feedback. Since prompting customers to provide feedback is a difficult ask for the time-strapped consumer, it’s critical to remove as much friction from the process as possible.

As we made it easier to share reviews and continued to grow, so did our customer review volume — we receive thousands per month. Since every piece of feedback is important, we endeavor to read everything to get an overall understanding of customers’ attitude towards us. But we had a very time-consuming and manual process to read through the reviews. Besides making it hard to manage reviews coming in, this system was also hindering our ability to effectively listen and act on that vital information.

What was the appeal of using AI to manage customer reviews?
AI definitely automates a manual process that otherwise would take more manpower or more time to do. We knew it was important to use robust sentiment analysis that could “understand” what customers care about at scale, and take our reporting to the next level.

When looking for a sentiment analysis tool, the most important piece of the puzzle was finding a solution that was easy to use and could streamline the feedback-analysis process. We expanded our partnership with Yotpo, which offers AI-powered solutions, and integrated Yotpo Insights.

Its user-friendly dashboard empowered a larger group of our employees to easily glean insights. Now we can analyze thousands of reviews each month to pinpoint how customers feel about our products. We can spend less time reading and more time executing on informed decisions.

The solution uses AI informed by customer shopping data to accurately and automatically understand the natural language people use when writing a review about a product. This capability enabled us to score customer sentiment with 92% accuracy, which is incredibly helpful in uncovering topics and opinions about our products. The solution also made it possible for us to see how we stack up against companies in our industry, so that we could establish a competitive path forward.

Implementing this was a total game changer, not just with how much it has sped up the process but also by backing insights with data through sentiment scoring and benchmark capabilities.

What specific milestones has the AI tool helped you hit?
Since we’ve implemented Insights, we’ve analyzed north of 61,000 reviews from our customer base. This analysis facilitated key changes to our products and business practices by giving us a clear understanding of customer opinion. It also helped our teams save around 20 hours of work that would have been devoted to manually reviewing customer feedback every month.

For example, when our customers reacted to a defective front bra clasp, the customer review analysis helped us quickly identify and resolve the issue. Another example that impacted our marketing strategy was the use of the word “husband” in positive reviews. This trend gave us the invaluable knowledge that husbands were often shopping on behalf of their wives, and thus we adjusted our strategy.

What’s the next step with the technology?
We’ve started providing access to the platform to internal team members that specialize in managing our customer feedback. It was also a natural fit to provide access to product and design teams to help inform product development based on the feedback we receive from customers.

 

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TECHNOLOGY

These retailers are emailing customers too often…

BY Marianne Wilson

Call it email overload.

A recent study by brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy Brand Keys found that for most brands, too many emails results in brand disengagement, which produces significantly less favorable behavior toward the brand. The study addressed emails received from top retailers where consumers voluntarily signed up for such out-reach, unaware of the number and frequency of emails they would receive.

Among retail brands (accounting for ranking ties), the following 12 brands (listed alphabetically) were cited by consumers as “emailing incessantly” or “sending too many emails, too frequently,” in the Brand Keys study.

1. Amazon
2. Apple
3. Bed, Bath & Beyond
4. Best Buy
5. CVS
6. Gap
7. Gilt
8. Groupon
9. Home Depot
10. Macy’s
11. Old Navy
12. Overstock
13. Target
14. Victoria’s Secret
15. Walmart

The study was conducted during May 2018 among 1,806 consumers, 18 to 55 years of age, across the United States, who had initially requested that they receive emails from the brands they cited.

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Study: Email-driven smartphone purchases hit an all-time high

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Emails helped smartphone performance reach a milestone in the first quarter of 2018.

For the first time, smartphones generated over 35% of all email-driven revenue, and half of all email-driven orders, according to “Email Benchmark Report: Maintaining  the Holiday Momentum,” from Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

There is an increasing willingness amongst consumers to make purchases via smartphones. Yet, the gap between the number of smartphone-driven orders and revenue suggests marketers have not bridged the gap between mobile and desktop average order value (AOV), according to the study.

“While we’re seeing more email-driven purchases on smartphones, the size of these orders still trails behind those from desktops, indicating that marketers haven’t fully cracked the mobile code,” said Jim Sturm, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “Marketers must prioritize improving the mobile shopping experience in 2018 to bridge the gap between mobile and desktop AOV. In doing so, they can drive significant revenue and maximize the ROI from the email channel.”

As expected, there has been a sharp drop in email volume following the holiday season (a 29% drop quarter-over-quarter), yet engagement rates are increasing. For example, in Q1, the average email open rate increased by 6%, the average unique click rate jumped by 12%, and the total click rate increased by 19% — indicating that lower volume helped marketers cut through the noise more effectively post-holiday.

However, the average unsubscribe rate surged by 16% from the previous quarter, suggesting that a cohort of holiday subscribers are opting out after maximizing their access to holiday-related offers, the study reported.

Other key findings include:

• The total click rate grew by 6% year-over-year (YoY), while the unique click rate decreased by 7% over the same time period.

• At 22%, inactive subscribers comprised almost a quarter of marketers’ databases in Q1 2018.

• Reactivation emails generated a 5% conversion rate, which is 40% higher than that for standard emails.

• Newsletters generated a 12% click-to-open rate, which is 40% higher than that of standard emails.

“After the holiday shopping season has died down, marketers can start the year off right by leveraging email as the focal point for a well-informed multi-channel engagement strategy,” said Michael Iaccarino, president of Infogroup, parent company of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “If marketers can master mobile now and incorporate additional touchpoints through flexible technology and intuitive functionalities, they can set themselves up for success for the upcoming holiday shopping season, especially as the number of mobile shoppers continues to grow.”

 

 

 

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