“Let’s get you set up,” the quiz begins. “Don’t worry, it will be quick.”
And then, those visiting the Fabletics web site are given a series of choices to make. Are they interested in sports bras, swimwear, or “anything athleisure?” Their answers will take them through the rest of what the brand promises will be a 30-second questionnaire, at the end of which Fabletics will be able to “unlock your perfect offer.”
Most brands save the surveying until after an online shopper has already converted into a buyer, but Fabletics considers the quiz an essential part of its customer experience (CX). It refers to this as the “onboarding” stage of the customer journey, but has only recently been able to take full advantage of the data it generates.
Speaking at last week’s Signal conference in London, TechStyle Fashion Group principal product manager Alan Chang discussed how Fabletics – as well as other TechStyle brands such as ShoeDazzle – are using Twilio’s customer data platform (CDP) Segment to better understand shoppers’ attitudes and aspirations around apparel.
“The questions and answers (built into the quiz) will change over time. Marketing may want to add an additional question, or provide additional answers and options within the quiz,” Chang explained. “We can to make cohorts around those answers, and make audience-building as flexible as possible.”
How a CDP supports CX at Fabletics, Shoedazzle and more
In the past, that was challenging because the data contained the answers was directly tied to the code used to build and run the quiz. Data would have to be analyzed off-line, or TechSyle would have to ask the company’s engineering team to add such capabilities to their already-heavy workloads.
Storing and managing the data in a CDP as events instead means TechStyle is able to make more relevant offers to each Fabletics or ShoeDazzle customer, Chang said. A cohort the company already grouped together may need to be split into two, while others should be merged together.
“It allows us, as a retailer – especially in fashion apparel – to be able to meet the market sooner,” he said.
Best known for its collaborations with celebrities such as Kate Hudson and Kevin Hart, TechStyle was founded in 2013 and has approximately 2.6 million active customers worldwide. Chang said the majority are part of its VIP membership program, which means they get products sent to them each month that have been hand-picked by a personal stylist.
That kind of approach requires TechStyle to be particularly mindful about the CX it offers, Chang said. It’s why the company refers to developing a “TechStyle OS” based on data science and technology.
“We’re ultimately about creating personal fashion experiences for our customers,” he said. “Fashion is about the right brand with the right item for the right customer at the right time. In order to do that we need a huge amount of first-party data, along with a system that can handle that data to be extremely performant and reliable.”
Chang was speaking about Twilio’s segment at a time when recent research suggests many retailers aren’t getting the results they hoped for from a CDP. It may work for TechStyle in part because a central services team supports five different brands.
Segment’s Protocols feature, for instance, allows TechStyle to create event libraries that minimize unnecessary variation in the digital experience across its brand web site. Activities like adding to cart and completing an order all contain the same properties, but there can be differences in terms of the product ID or a discount offer that’s being applied. Chang’s team can also review customer data at scale to identify any problems and resolve them quickly.
Meeting VIP member expectations
Members obviously expect high-calibre ideas of what they should buy next, and TechStyle achieves that by centrally managing data such as product views or items that have been added to shopping carts. Product recommendations built upon Segment data and have led to a 13 per cent increase in order conversions, according to Chang.
The Segment CDP also provides complete customer profiles to those calling into Fabletics, Shoedazzle or other TechStyle brands for support. This not only includes their order history but, if they’re a VIP member, their tenure within the program. It’s critical for the company to stave off the risk of people cancelling their membership.
“We were reading a general script and providing a general savings offer to our customers to encourage them to continue,” Chang said. The CDP allows offers to be far more tailored in order to encourage membership renewals. Since using Segment for this purpose, he said Fabletics has seen a 36 per cent increase in its retention rate for members who call its contact center.
CDPs first emerged before artificial intelligence (AI) came to be seen as a layer that could be applied across tech stacks and CX strategies. Chang said TechStyle is optimistic about the opportunities the technology presents for further refining the way it engages with customers across Fabletics, ShoeDazzle and its other brands.
“AI allows us to ask more insightful questions, and answer questions that perhaps we hadn’t even considered,” he said. “And now we can process more of that data and drive better customer experiences for it.”
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.