Key Takeaways from our “Exploring Omni-Channel Optimization” Panel

By Anshey Bhatia • June 23, 2016

Struggling to create a strategy for your brand across your Omni-Channel network? Having difficult deciding where to put your resources and budget? Our panel of experts, Verbal+Visual, explored all the opportunities and challenges of creating an optimized Omni-Channel experience for consumers. Our panel included Raashi Rosenberger from Pinterest, Julienne Shaw from Club Monaco and the founding team of Bonobos, and Naveen Ghushe of Brainchild & Co. Each panelist shared their unique experiences with e-commerce optimization for large brands, growing startups and social media channels.

If you were unable to attend the event and join the discussion, here are the main take-away points from yesterday’s “Exploring Omni-Channel Optimization” panel.

Listen to your customers!

The current trend in retail focuses on e-commerce and setting up showroom locations like Birchbox & Bonobos, while established retailers like Club Monaco are working to improve their e-commerce experience. Naveen explained that startups are set up as e-commerce sites first, and then they often find that their loyal customers want an in-store experience. Julienne (Juls) mentioned that in the beginning years of Bonobos, they found that customers would come to their corporate office to return or exchange their purchases. When Bonobos saw these consumers, they immediately recognized the need to create branded Bonobos stores. Ghushe reiterated that brands should listen to their customers first. If customers are asking for an in-store experience then brand should create an in-store experience for them, rather than resist expanding.

Cool technology for in-store experience

All brands are looking to integrate their online and in store’s branded experiences for consumers. There are exciting new tools out in the market like RFID technology. Consumers can walk into stores and try on new outfits and, instead of waiting in line, they can make their purchases through the RFID technology integrated in the mirrors in store’s dressing rooms. Julienne shared her insights from Ralph Lauren’s experience of adopting RFID technology in their main showcase stores.  Currently, Bonobos displays iPad in their stores for consumers to record what they tried out and then consider continuing the purchasing experience in the comfort of their home. This allows for the customers not to feel pressured in-store to make a purchase.

The Bots are taking over!

Although the current state of bots in shopping experience seems limited today, Raashi predicted that potentially bots are great for the future. Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri are at the forefront of automated shopping for consumers, but there is still room for improvement. Looking for the new developments from automated systems and bots are key in planning for new brands and retailers.

Pinterest is adding new tools for brands

Consumers go to Pinterest to find inspiration in cooking, house decor, party planning and much more. Raashi Rosenberger revealed Pinterest’s new functionality, Buyable Pins which allows consumers to buy products through their Pinterest account. Major retailers like Nordstrom’s and Macy’s are currently using the Buyable Pins programs and Raashi explained that they are seeing traction. Pinterest integrates with large e-commerce platforms like IBM and Demandware and medium to smaller business platforms like Magento and Shopify to allow brands to add Buyable Pins to their Pinterest boards. Currently, vendors have to apply to be part of the Buyable Pins program here.

Thank You’s

We would like to thank Techspace for letting us host our event in their office space. Also, we would like to thank our panelists for sharing their experiences and great advice to the larger Verbal+Visual audience. Lastly, we would like to thank our audience for attending the event. As an attendee, you’re entitled to receive a complimentary e-commerce consultation on your current website from the Verbal+Visual team.

Future Events

If you would like to attend our future events and hear about the work we do at Verbal+Visual, please join our email list. Our next panel is on Data & Analytics, and will be held in September. Watch out for our event invitations in your inbox for more details. Until next time…

Verbal+Visual's Principal Anshey Bhatia

Verbal+Visual’s Principal Anshey Bhatia

Onmi-Channel panel

Left to Right: Raashi Rosenberger of Pinterest, Julienne Shaw of Club Monaco, Naveen Ghushe of Brainchild & Co and Anshey Bhatia of Verbal+Visual

Omni-Channel Panel

Left to Right: Raashi Rosenberger of Pinterest, Julienne Shaw of Club Monaco, Naveen Ghushe of Brainchild &Co and Anshey Bhatia of Verbal+Visual

Raashi Rosenberger of Pinterest

Raashi Rosenberger explaining Pinterest’s new functionality

Attendees of Omni-Channel panel

Attendees of Omni-Channel panel

Omni-Channel panel

Meeting of minds at Omni-Channel panel

Verbal+Visual's Principal Anshey Bhatia

Welcome statement by Verbal+Visual’s Principal Anshey Bhatia

attendees of Omni-Channel Panel

Carl Williams meeting other attendees of the Omni-Channel panel

Attendee of Omni-Channel panel

Left to Right: Matt Bahr of Master & Dynamic and Ian Ellis of Anheuser-Busch InBev

ECI New York

Left to Right: Brian Best of ECI New York and Maria Henderson of ECI New York

For those of you who want to read the panel discussion, the transcript is below.

Transcript of Panel:

Anshey Bhatia: Hey everybody, my name is Anshey. I’m the CEO of Verbal+Visual. Thank you all so much for being here. Welcome to our omni-channel, sales, and optimization panel. We have three wonderful panelists with us today, which we’re really really excited about. They’re going to introduce themselves in a minute. I also want to thank Techspace. I have to give a shameless applaud to Techspace. We’ve been here six years and if anybody is ever looking for an office space, they’re fantastic. Let me know after the panel and I’d be happy to introduce you appropriately. So why don’t we hop right in. First, I’d like to start with a simple question- what does omni-channel mean? So omni-channel commerce is described as commerce that uses a variety of channels in a customer’s shopping experience, including research before a purchase. Such channels include retail stores, online stores, mobile stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales, and any other method of transacting with a customer. With that, I’d like to ask our panelists to introduce themselves, where they work, and how omni-channel relates back to them.
Julienne Shaw: Hi everyone, my name is Julienne, everyone calls me Jules. Can you guys hear me? Ok, great. I’m currently at Club Monaco- I oversee their talent acquisition for North America for retail and corporate. I’m also an investor at Bonobos. I was there for about five years prior to joining Club Monaco, so I’ll be speaking about my experience from a digitally native brand, Bonobos, and also my experience at a big retailer like Club Monaco. Omni-channel to me means that I think shopping and e-commerce is so digitally driven. I think also because of retail trends and the economy, just global commerce itself, that a lot of e-commerce companies are going offline. So, there’s this reversal of online to offline and offline to online, so I think it’s understanding customer experiences and also being a little bit smarter with customization. So that’s going to be a big critical factor in evolving a brand, their awareness and also being able to connect with a customer is customizing their shopping experiences, so.-laughter-
Naveen Ghushe: Hello everyone, my name is Naveen. My background is in operations, so I’ve worked in operations for large industrial parts companies, rank customer expeirence, worked at Gilt.com duing it’s awkward teenage years of growing as a startup. And currently, I run operations and talent across a collective of startups, called thearrivals.com, aunomy.com, herohealth.com, and askalmond.com, so pretty unique businesses in fashion, beauty, and health care. My biggest interest in omni-channel marketing has been that it’s won a brand representation, so it’s cohesive, it speaks to all of our customer base, it’s something that, kind of as Jules mentioned, it’s where our customers are so, what used to be just retail or just a physical representation and then just felt like it was just e-commerce or just digital has now become, it’s localized through geo-targeting, it’s social through social marketing, it’s mobile and it’s kind of taking a mobile first approach and over all of that, it’s data first kind of thinking. It’s not just build and they will come, but where are our customers, how do we get in front of them and how do we make compelling arguments for why they should care.
Rasshi Rosenberger: Hey guys, my name is Rasshi Rosenberger. I work at Pinterest. I’ve been at Pinterest for about a year and a half working primarily in the creative strategy function, so working with brands and advertisers. Prior to pinterest, I worked with the agency side, both at Razorfish and Grey. At Razorfish, I spent the majority of my time working with digital e-commerce businesses, thinking a lot about this question of ecommerce and omni-channel overall. So, when Anshey asked me to be part of this panel, I felt super honored to be with this great kind of audience, but I think what’s super exciting about omni-channel right now is the fact that we’re able to think not only about online and offline, but also all of the different touch points of the consumer, so this idea of being one hundred percent consumer centric. There are so many different elements that are going to persuade people to purchase, people to influence certain decisions, and I think that thinking about omni-channel brings together, this idea of VR, offline, retail, online- all of these different elements. And so, at Pinterest, the way we think about it is while Pinterest is a digital platform, you can purchase from the exact site. We’re also driving a lot of intent and persuasiveness to people who are purchasing offline. So, really excited to be part of this conversation.
Anshey: Great, thank you all and welcome. So, I love starting panels off with ‘what is the future? Where are things going?’ That’s always, you know, a common topic and a common thread. So, you know, there’s companies that are delving into VR, virtual reality. There’s companies that are delving into voice and voice recognition. For instance, Siri just came out with the ability for other companies to actually sync into Siri, and how does that affect the commerce experience. Can you now order directly from Siri or from Alexa. Bots are obviously very very, you know, popular right now. What is the future of bots? So, I really, those questions are really interesting to me and I’d love to hear, first from Julienne, what are the things that you’ve seen in your experience that companies you’ve worked with have been working on to move into the future?
Julienne: So I will speak mostly on Bonobos because I think that’s the most relevant experience so Bonobos has a very interesting shopping model. How many of you have shopped at Bonobos?
-Audience responds, Raashi and Naveen raise their hands as well-
Julienne: Cool. Was it seamless? Was it weird? A little weird? No? (laughs) So, for those of you who never shopped in a physical Bonobos store is, so I was part of the founding team there and what happened was customers (men, because it was completely a menswear company), they googled our office address. They thought that we had a brick and mortar store. So this is before the days of Birchbox, the days of the Everlane, the days of Warby, right? So, there weren’t these e-commerce showrooms and platforms for shoppers to go and experience their sizes and figure out what’s best for them. And customers would show up and bring their returns and poor receptionist would just take the returns and send them on their way and make them go home and complete the returns on their own. And we found that that was a critical juncture of ‘if we can capture this human experience in person, but have this online experience also in person, we can build this amazing shopping experience for the future.’ So fast forward five years, we have (we as an I’m still part of the Bonobos family essentially)- there’s about 20 stores, so when you walk in you buy stuff through our website and now we have these amazing ipads that are very customized to every single person who walks in. So it saves every single thing you’ve tried on in person that you buy or you don’t buy, so if you don’t, so there’s no pressure to buy in the store. That’s number one is that we want to make shopping easy. And we feel like the future for shopping is make it customized. And I keep saying that because it’s so important in such a schedule driven, especially in New York, you feel it, you want to buy something really fast, but when you buy online, it’s like that Amazon Prime effect. You want it that day, the next day or within 48 hours. So at Bonobos, you go in, you shop, you pick out all your things. You work with a personal shopper and you leave with nothing. We take your money (laughs) and we send you home with a list of everything you tried on, the sizes you tried on. Hopefully it was a good experience. We’re mobilizing that right now. And you can go online and pick up where you left off if you didn’t buy anything or you’ll wait 24 hours and you’ll get your box of everything you purchased. So that’s fascinating to me because it’s an inventory last shopping experience, where now moving to the Club Monaco side, which is owned by Ralph Lauren, it was a career move that I needed to understand the bigger world wide picture of retail and what’s going on in shifting retail consumers is that they’re suffering right now because there’s so much inventory that they don’t know what to do with so they’re liquidating it. So companies like TJ Maxx and Ross and Marshall’s are benefitting from big supposedly luxury brands that are way too far, they buy way too in advance, about 15 months out, where Zara will buy maybe one month out. So we’re talking about a big shift of retail changes and shopping and mentality. So right now, it’s fast. It’s not necessarily fast fashion, but it’s immediate satisfaction of getting that online experience, but getting that offline satisfaction.
Naveen: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I think I feel like almost the exact same way. In the past we kind of thought about technology. So on the technology side, I think the problem I see slightly happening is people focusing in on technology first as the solution. I think really, I think there’s some good solutions out there. Perch is a startup doing kind of a tabletop display ad, so you can bring your device or the product you’re about to purchase that’s tagged- you can lay it down on that platform and see all the information that might be relevant to the item. I think that’s a great solution. I think there’s a few others that are good solutions, but I think that the biggest part is taking a data driven approach. So when I think about what’s worked in the past, I think a lot of causation kind of analysis. It’s ‘hey, this is a great product or great design or really well priced’ and that’s caused the customer to purchase. But a lot of what Jules just mentioned on this correlation- people who tried this item on ended up buying this other item or people who came in looking for product A also were looking for in another color way. I think a lot of that kind of data driven and then building technology on top of it. One business we look a lot at is the business we built called thearrivals.com. It’s a direct to consumer mens and womens outerwear brand at a value prop, but still a pretty significant price point. So one might be a 1500 dollar leather jacket at Hummet Lang or Acne might be 500 dollars here. Made at the same kind of factories, and what we’ve been able to do is things like geo-locate our customers. So, if you’re shopping right now, the last thing a New Yorker wants to see is a winter jacket, but on a different hemisphere, they don’t really want to be seeing like, white leather cut off. So really understand who our customer’s coming from and then thinking a lot of whether it’s things like maker sites where these surveying tools to understand any of our customers data really drive our decision making on, ‘ok this customer who purchased this type of item we think has a stronger lifetime value because they come back’ or customers acquire through these types of channels have a longer likelihood to stay with the brand. What we haven’t done is spend a ton of money upfront and on big branded advertising. What we really try to do is try to study lifetime value, understand our different channels and cohorts, and really spend in the areas that we think add to the longest lifetime value.
Raashi: I’m gonna come at this question from a little bit of a different perspective just being from the platform side. The first thing is is that we have seen technology move businesses in really interesting ways, like going all the way back in the day to how google shifted the way small businesses think about commerce, right? So, if we fast forward that to today, and we think about the way technology- bots, VR, all of these things are affecting the discovery process of finding things to buy, we see that there’s so many different touch points for the consumer. We also see that all of these different behaviors are different based on whatever it is that they’re purchasing. So we’ve been talking a lot about retail and that’s going to be something that’s very specific, but if you think about purchasing food, for example: Amazon Fresh made it possible to buy food online and that was a big change in the market. But the type of guidance that someone may need to buy good, packaged food, whatever that is is different than the type of guidance that someone would need to buy retail, personal style, ect. And so, at Pinterest, what we have really focused on is using our technology to help guide the users from the discovery process to the purchase process, whatever that content is. Bringing it back to bots, cus bots are super cool right now, super hot. I’m really excited. I actually, from a personal note, just bought Amazon Echo. Amazing, amazing technology! Really fun to play with. It’s like having a creature in your home. It’s like so bizarre. But I think that like while the technology is not there yet, like I still can barely order an Uber from my apartment, and barely pick the right Spotify playlist to play, at some point in the future, that’s going to be able to integrate with API’s, like Pinterest, like Facebook, etc. and it’s going to all feed into this approach of figuring out your personal style, your personal preference, the ingredients that you like and it will do more and more to guide what you actually want and bring you from that discovery process all the way to that purchase process. I don’t think the end is here yet, but I think we’re getting closer and to imagine the possibility of what we can use- all those different technologies for, I think that is when we start to get really excited from VR, to bots, etc. etc.
Anshey: I have a follow up question. So, Naveen talked a lot about data and utilizing data as much as possible. How is Pinterest, as a digital platform, using data and analytics?
Raashi: Yea that’s a great point. A couple things we do on the Pinterest side is like super simple and really like fun. We actually scan all of our data and look for trends. So you may have seen it in Elle or Refinery29, things like that where we actually have the Pinterest pallet so all of the trending colors on Pinterest. We have the flavor profile where you can see all of the flavors that are trending. We found that kale was the new brussel sprouts and cauliflower is the new kale and like on and on and on! So finding out all of those different really fun food profiles, all the different color profiles are really fun. Looking to see what’s trending on fashion. All of those things are like really fun consumer ideas and we’re scanning through all of our data and the idea here is that we have a whole platform of personal curation. So it’s not necessarily the curator who’s picking the trends, it’s that like people are picking the trends and that’s really exciting. The second thing that we have done is we’ve actually opened up our developer, our Pinterest API, so that’s like a whole flood of data. Essentially, brands and businesses can scan individual people’s pinterest profiles and then recommend items, apparel, or food, drink, whatever might be to individual people based on what their preferences are. For example, Club Monaco could scan my Pinterest profile, see that I’ve been totally jamming on like neon green in the summertime, and then pick the coolest best pieces that are neon green for me and then recommend those.
Anshey: Sounds great. I’d like to talk a little bit about design. Design and branding is really really important, of course. And without a great branding experience, noone’s really going to trust that brand or want to purchase from there. So I’d like to come back to Jules and just ask what trends are you seeing in design within the companies that you’ve been involved with.
Julienne: The very easy answer is back to basics. I think a lot of the brands that I personally relate to, I personally love Everlane, I love Warby Parker, I still love my family at Bonobos. I think a lot of the fashion trends that we’re looking at, especially for those of y’all who don’t work in fashion or design or clothing design is what people gravitate towards is you know if, you look, at your wardrobe (and I did this while I was moving, so when you move, it hits you the most) is you look at your wardrobe and in your closet, you spend most of your closet (there’s about 15% out of your closet that you wear over and over and over again. So as a retailer and also from a design perspective, we want to target and broaden that 15% to 20-25% of your wardrobe. The rest of it is your trends. Right? So your Athleisure of the worlds, the outdoor voices- those kinds of brands that are on trend right now but maybe in five to ten to fifteen years may not be around, but your classic white oxford, I mean, your white pants for this summer, your shift dress for ladies and your chambray shirt for men; that’s never going to change. And I feel like as an e-commerce company from, you know, a talent perspective and from Bonobos perspective is that’s always going to be your target audience over time from a design perspective because as your customer base evolves, and matures over time, fashion comes back as a cycle. And we can all experience this, right? I don’t know, do you guys watch or follow Buzzfeed at all and look at those funny (laughs). I look at my facebook and I’m like ‘oh my gosh, like the 90’s! Yes I need the choker, those chokers are coming back! Why are they coming back?! But they’re coming back!’
-laughter-
Julienne: So think of it like ten fifteen years down the line and it’s so interesting to me but that really is that 15% of your wardrobe that you wear over and over, that from a design perspective in my mind, those classics, is going to stay forever. I feel like that’s beyond fashion and retail. It’s going to transcend across different industries.
Anshey: Also, from a brand perspective, I’d be curious. And we can move on- from a brand perspective, in all of these different channels, in store, online, on different digital platforms, how does design affect the user experience?
Naveen: Yeah, I mean I think people are also getting more focused on like a minimalist approach. I think the millennial generation especially, and that’s obviously going to be one of the biggest population groups that consumers go after. And I think these e-commerce businesses, the Everlanes, there’s a shortening window of like when you can really get lifetime value with some of those brands. So I think if you can acquire those customers in the next five years, those are lifetime type customers. I think five years from now, new start ups and new brands are gonna have a harder time on this direct to consumer model really capturing a large enough attention span. On the design perspective though, I think it’s building things that are interesting enough for you like today but have this timeless, classic silhouette and then actually add some true value prop. So I think all of the businesses Jule kind of mentioned, the Everlanes, the Warby Parkers. They’re classic in design. The frames of Warby are kind of built off of that concept in Everlane, they’re offering a true value prop and they’re pieces that you’d buy today and if that was a new piece or a new shoe that Everlane decided to launch three years from now, it would still feel like it’s a new novel piece even though it happen today or it happened three years from now.
Anshey: So, from a design perspective though, why don’t we talk about content with you Raashi, because content is obviously very very important and would love all three of your takes on this. How do you create content that can be used on a platform like Pinterest, but also use in store and also use, because that’s really really important is that there’s limited resources for a lot of companies creating content. So how can companies wanting to create this content put it on the appropriate platforms and get traction out of it with their limited resources.
Raashi: I can start with that one. Content is one of my favorite and also my most hated questions. It’s actually like very much in what I do in a day to day basis. My role at Pinterest is to help brands come up with the right kind of content for their business objective and for their brand. And so what we have found is that there’s so many different ways for people to discover and find new things, right? The internet is a jumble of like so many exciting and also terrifying things. So how do we make sense of that? Well the way that consumers make sense of that is through content. What is the thing that resonates with them? What is the style, what is the perspective, what are the different preferences that your target audience has and how are you going to bring them into the fold? Pinterest is obviously an aspirational site, but one of the things we have seen in the past like I want to say year or so is that while it is very aspirational, people have created and done things that they see on Pinterest and they’ve hair their Pinterest fail. Right? Like, they have done the things that look really cool but are actually very hard, very complex whether it’s that style that you wish you could recreate and then you recreate and realize you never wanted to recreate or the cupcake that you wanted to make. So the Pinterest fail is very real and so when we think about content, one of the things that I think is a trend and also is very much in line with what you guys mentioned in terms of sophisticated, but timeless approach is that for content, you want to create images, ideas that are going to last for a very long time and that are going to fit across different channels. You want to make sure that the content is approachable in some capacity. You want to make sure that people can actually imagine themselves in it. We’ve spoken to some retailers and this translates in the ways like some retailers and this translates in the way that some retailers don’t put their faces in their models. People don’t put hands in their actual photoshoot because you want every individual to imagine themselves in that particular shoot in some capacity. Sometimes that doesn’t work, it’s just one approach. But I think that this idea is number one: approachable and number two: something that is timeless, is going to be really relevant as we’re thinking about content across the board no matter what the target audience is. But I think that this idea is number one: approachable and number two: something that is timeless, is going to be really relevant as we’re thinking about content across the board no matter what the target audience is.

Anshey: Do you guys have any thoughts on content actually? I’d love to hear from both of you.
Naveen: I think Raashi did a really nice job there. So I might pass on mine. I’d say my one thing on content has been that it has to be true to that brand and that voice has to be really honest and true to it and it has to be cohesive across all the different mediums and areas that you’re pushing it, but also has to cater to it. So while the voice and tone has to remain honest to that brand, it might be different on Facebook when you’re talking to that audience and it might be very different when you’re going for a more aspirational look on Instagram. That’s the one curation tool that I would say just to be cognisant of it.
Anshey: Jules, do you have anything to add or no? No problem if not.
-laughter-
Julienne: I can just talk about clothes?
Anshey: Cool. So let’s talk about technology. I think technology and operations are obviously very very important to omni-channel and how you create a customer experience that makes sense across every single channel. So I’d like to start with you Naveen because I know this is an area of your expertise. If you don’t mind, what technologies are you using out there? What processes are you seeing out there that you guys are implementing or that you’ve seen in the marketplace?
Naveen: Yeah, I think one is just the vision of labor. So we’ve watched a lot of companies. I think one that, Gilt and Warby Parker and all of these, even Bonobos, has done a really good job of is built this customer experience or customer first kind of approach. When you watch older companies take what was customer experience it was people, not even probably responding to emails at that point but, answering calls, responding to email, responding to like actual snail mail, dealing with transactions and it was like ok, how can i conveniently and inconveniently end this conversation? Now it’s become like a full circle- so how do I have a conversation with that customer? What trends and data’s being pulled from that that’s being aggregated? How can I inform that to our production team, our design teams, how does that form the next release or iterations on our current product? What pitfalls or challenges are we seeing? So it takes this like full circle all the way to how do I prevent any other customer from having to call in about that trend or about that issue. For us, we’ve learned that customer experience has been a great introduction to every business we’ve launched. We try to bring at least 80% of our organization through the customer experience funnel and the other change that we’ve recently made is no one’s allowed to be strictly customer experience. They all have to spend at least 20% of their time in some other areas. That might be digital marketing. It might be supply chain. It might be production. It allows you to quickly take a- here’s what I’ve learned. For a lot of e-commerce businesses, they don’t get the benefit of what past industries had of being in person with their customers. I think the guide shop at Bonobos does a great job of really getting insights. But for a lot of these companies, behind the scenes your merchandisers, your COOs don’t really talk to their customers. They don’t get an opportunity to and that 22 year old just out of college is probably the person spending more time having a direct relationship to your customer base. So how can you get an leverage that conversation in a way that is actually meaningful for the whole cycle. And so I think that customer first approach has been one that’s really been lucrative for us. We did things- We’re in the office that Warby Parker launched out of that they handed off to Harry’s so we have some good mojo kind of going in that office now and one of the things we learned is kind of what Jules said- people really wanted to try on product and were like like well, we don’t have a showroom, we should hold off until we have enough budget to get a separate space and people just didn’t care. They were like ‘Hey, we might have a 1 or 2% e-commerce conversion rate on our website but we have like a 91% conversion rate when customers come in and try on the product. So why are we being so bullheaded that we think we know more than our customer does? Let them kind of lead and that data proved that hey this is the lucrative thing rather than building a retail space and then being frustrated that the revenue didn’t come. We can now make a really formed data-driven approach to how big that space should be, how well should it be staffed, should it be appointment based or should it be free flowing? A lot of that stuff was able to come out of this customer first and it was a 22 year old customer experience person who just said ‘hey, these people really want like a concierge like service or a stylist that tells them which jackets going to look better on me, let’s just do that.’ That’s probably been the biggest change for us.
Raashi: This is just a little bit more about user experience cus I think that you bring up such a great point. I used to back in the day one of my clients was Uniqlo and when I was working with Uniqlo, one of our clients said ‘I really feel like the user experience of the store is just like way better than the user experience of the e-commerce site. And like, yeah that makes sense. You can see on the Uniqlo, in the Uniqlo stores, I don’t know if you guys have been to them, you can see different colors, you can tactically see the feel, you can see the look. You can see the quirkyness and playfulness of all of those different things. I think when you think about e-commerce sites and digital in general, user experience is harder. You have less sensory things to play with. You can’t zoom up on fabric and actually touch it, you have to use the zoom button. And so, if we think about user experience, I think, I mean I’m totally biased, right? I work at Pinterest and we think about discovery. But I think that the discovery element is so important to the purchase piece of e-commerce, right? So how do we bring in that discovery element online? At Pinterest, we’re working hard on it. I don’t know if you guys have bought something on Pinterest- maybe do a quick raise of hands. It might be shameful, but that’s okay.
-laughter-
Raashi: (Raises hand) Okay, that’s good, that’s good. Well, you can buy something straight off of Pinterest. It’s a two-click purchase. It’s super easy. But we have, like as consumers, we have been so trained to think about discovery as like window shopping and then purchase as like google search that bringing those two experiences is I think is one of the hardest things about omni-channel and I think we still struggle with and I’m hoping that technology, awesome experiences like what you just articulated brings those two like consumer mindframes a little bit closer together so we truly can see how technology facilitates omni-channel.
Julienne: Just really quickly with omni-channel especially, how many, raise of hands, how many of you have been in a shop but have also been shopping on your phone in the shop? (raises hand) Me too. It’s like oh this is out of stock. I’m on my phone, I order online. I’ve actually shopped online in the store. So, I think the, again, just having that mobile experience- mobile is huge, mobile shopping. But I think a lot of businesses that are struggling right now don’t understand how to connect the mobile experience and the in store experience. And not necessarily the guy shop experience that I just explained about Bonobos, but being able to capitalize on mobile in the store is going to be huge in the next few years, especially for e-commerce and bringing that element of technology and also customization and social platforms in the store, which is really exciting.
Anshey: Great, that brings me to my next question, conveniently. How do you convert in a multi-channel world with limited attention with so many channels? Mobile comes to mind first, of course. But what are the other areas that you’re seeing and obviously mobile is there. Mobile is going to be there for a while. So what are the trends going forward besides mobile?
Julienne: Sure, so besides mobile, I spoke a lot about Bonobos but now I’m going to switch it over to my  Ralph Lauren Club Monaco experience because coming from a 10 year old company startup to a 50 year old iconic brand. So what Ralph has done is they’ve- Have you guys shopped at any of the Ralph Polo stores on 5th Avenue or Madison? So they recently introduced RFID, which a lot of companies use, but there’s this huge business in a Cider article that came out about a year ago where you can take, you know, four or five articles if you’re in a hurry, just go to a dressing room, the RFID scans it. It’s already on this mirror and it shows you every item that you have in your room without even talking to a human. And you can even shop online through this mirror with all of the RFID tags. So that’s something that they piloted a year ago and it’s ironic because for a company like Ralph Lauren, they’re really utilizing this omni-channel experience where they have RFIDs. They’ve got people to speak to people. They’ve got customer experience associates, sales associates. They’ve got mobile platforms, but then they also have this amazing technology that they’re totally okay with people just coming in and then trying stuff on and maybe not buying, but picking that experience up at home. So I think that is going to be really critical in a lot of big brands regardless if it’s retail or food. Another trend from my Club Monaco experience is that we’re kind of going backwards a little bit. Like I said, trends are going back where people are now wanting to find unique experiences. Our big store that we’re opening is in Charleston, South Carolina and we’re testing this out. It’s a big food scene so we’re re-creating this really unique food restaurant and cafe in the store. A lot of people have done this, you know, Barnes and Nobles, they’ve had Starbucks. Weird. But we’ve curated, I hate that word- curated, but we’ve hand selected a chef that’s local. Bringing local talent outside of your current industry and creating a really unique shopping experience that’s very unique to your market. And I think that’s also another trend that we’re going to see beyond mobile, beyond customization and beyond these RFID technologies is normal, face-to-face interactions. People want to spend time with each other and what better way to do it than with food and wine and beer and drinks, kind of like what we’re doing tonight.
Audience member: Real quick, Rebecca Minkoff, did she start that?
Julienne: The food experience or the online RFID?
Audience member: Yeah
Julienne: She was one of the first, yes. So she was one of the very first to have brought this RFID technology in and understood the power of your social commerce and your customers who are, again, her biggest customers are online shoppers.
Naveen: Yeah, I think in a similar realm, mine’s actually slightly more of what that opportunity is more than the technology that’s actually really solving it. But what I think about great customer experience, it’s having great conversations. It’s super friendly but I think we’ve also gotten to a point where when you go into a great store and someone’s like ‘oh, can I help you?’ even though you probably don’t actually need the help, you need to know where that product’s located, you need to know some information or cost points on it. You want to know if it looks good on you. You still end up kind of saying no, like ‘no, I’m actually okay! I’m just browsing’. I think the void is still how do you solve those customer pinpoints? So customer experience is one. A great conversation, something really friendly, but it’s too, just policy. It’s like a process that makes shopping, transactions, and data just more attainable. So Zappos, like everyone says, Zappos hands down used to have the best customer experience- but like how many people ever really called Zappos? Very few, I bet. What they did was create one of the best transactions where it was a great return policy, they upgraded your shipping- They did all of these things that you never had to call customer experience and that’s what made their customer experience so great. So I think where that void and that opportunity in technology is is how do you make that transaction better? When I think about the Uber and Lyft, kind of head to head while that was happening a while ago and now it’s obvious Uber has pulled away, Lyft kind of took a different approach. They said let’s really focus on that customer experience, let’s give them a fist pound when they walk in, let’s have some bright pink mustache when they sit down. Let’s have a conversation- have them sit in the front seat instead of the back seat. I think that was a approach and I think it was a very customer driven approach, but I think the actual opportunity was how do I have a really on time pick up that’s transactionally affordable, that’s really seamless? And I don’t really want to have that conversation I just want to get from point A to point B. I think Uber took a more data driven approach of we’re solving that void even if it’s the policy and process of customer experience and not the conversation of customer experience.
Raashi: I can add one last data point, cus I have a data point here. Go where there’s intent, too. So we recently found that people are- we did some research studies and kind of looked at the mindset that people are in when they’re on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Google, watching magazines, watching TV, all of these different things. And if you’re thinking about conversions, if you’re thinking about what’s going to convince someone, persuade someone, to have a better experience, get them when they’re paying attention to you and not necessarily when they are distracted with something else. My hilarious data point is that people on Pinterest- 55% of them said that they had purchased something while they were on Pinterest, had purchased something that they had seen and been excited about. Across other platforms, they were less so, significantly less. Like 11, 12% on Facebook, Instagram. What you want to do is get other people when they’re receptive and I think that that is (in addition to all of the things that Jules and Naveen mentioned) that is also super important, right? If you are just window shopping and you’re browsing and you don’t want to buy something, you’re not going to. But when you have an event that you’re planning for and you know that you need something, that’s like the perfect time. So provide that context.
Anshey: So that’s all my questions, but I’d love to (before we open it up for Q&A), if any of you have any other points that you’d like to make? And it’s okay if not, but I figured any closing thoughts would be great.
Julienne: I would love to hear from you guys!
-laughter-
Anshey: Alright, so before we do Q&A, I want to first off thank everybody for attending. Again, if anybody is interested in office space, Tech Space is the spot, so let me know. And then in addition to that, we did want to offer, from Verbal+Visual, if anybody is interested in a complimentary consultation on your website, on omni-channel, we’re happy to do that as well. So with that, we’d like to open up with Q&A. Does anybody have any questions?

 

 

Anshey Bhatia

Founder of Verbal+Visual. E-commerce nerd. People connector. Travel junkie. Tech lover.

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