Personalization is often synonymized with relevance, and relevance is delivered effectively when there is an understanding of the context of a situation. At a very granular level, context as it is related to Commerce Search is derived from understanding who the user is, what the user is communicating, and in what channel the user is communicating their message.
The year of 2015 has been tremendous for RichRelevance and for the retail industry at large. While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished as an organization, I’m even more excited about the success of our customers and the ways in which they are leveraging RichRelevance to traverse the omnichannel customer journey by building personalized experiences. Today, omnichannel initiatives are on everyone’s priority list, personalization is more important than ever, innovations in retail are starting to reap dividends and Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Information Officers are partnering ever more closely.
This past year was filled with many milestones for RichRelevance. We launched an entirely new Relevance Cloud Omnichannel Personalization Platform, powered hundreds of ecommerce websites, mobile apps, in-store and contact center experiences; and 77 major retail brands around the globe chose Relevance Cloud as their independent personalization platform. This is an addition to an esteemed list of 240 brands that already use Relevance Cloud.
We innovated by opening our core personalization platform, releasing new services like user profile service, strategy publishing service and more. We also launched Engage, a new product for content and promotion personalization. Many more customers extended RichRelevance to cover mobile devices, in addition to email, stores and even contact centers, with each of our omnichannel products.
Our research and development efforts have enabled us to become the provider of the only fully- featured, independent and open personalization platform in the market. This allows us to support all your omnichannel projects and any other innovative customer experience you may launch in the coming years.
This technical leadership has allowed us to secure the top spot as the leader in omnichannel personalization for the fifth year in a row according to Internet Retailer. We also launched our twelfth global datacenter in Tokyo, Japan bringing global latency under 100ms. Finally, we held our first customer conferences in Europe and North America.
Along with our customers, we’re on an incredible journey. Our vision is to enable any company to personalize all customer interactions. As referenced in the recent Digiday article, “How Barneys is digitizing its New York City flagship store,” we are helping retailers like Barneys to equip store associates with real-time customer data using best cloud and mobile personalization technologies.
And we’re helping some of the biggest retailers in the world, like Office Depot, build cloud-based experiences that are inherently personalized and seamless. Never before has Marketing and IT partnership had such an important role in the enterprise, and it’s a great honor for us to tie them together and be a part of that transformation for our customers.
The year 2015 was also transformational for the RichRelevance ecosystem. We deepened our partnerships with world’s best technology and services providers such as Accenture, HookLogic, StarMount and several others to enable a best-of-breed personalization technology stack.
As we march down 2016, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for your partnership and your support. Thank you for being an inspiring community of forward-thinking, innovation-driven, consumer-first, omnichannel-loving retailers. Let’s keep doing great things together.
Best wishes for a successful 2016!
– Eduardo Sanchez
A strong culture should be substantive and authentic, differentiated and visual. By visual, you should be able to see employees in various work scenarios that unquestionably embody company culture. While hiring teammates for cultural fit may feel burdensome or lengthy during the recruitment process, it ultimately pays off in the rapid assimilation that is created by shared values.
Here at RichRelevance, our shared values come down to three basic phrases: Own it. Keep it simple. Get it done. Weaving all three together is communication—every step of the way, in every direction, through rank and file, horizontally and vertically. Every individual should know “what are we doing every single day to make this company great?”
This may appear obvious to the casual reader but over the years, time and again, I have seen many smart individuals, competent teams and entire companies (from small to large) miss these three basic concepts.
Each of us at this 200-person small company is effectively running the company. You run your own show and hopefully if things go well, your domain continues to grow. Rather than waiting to be told what to do, be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
A great example of “owning it” was the launch of Relevance 2.0—a complete re-positioning of our company. While the concept was born last October, serious strategy, preparation and groundwork were laid out during the holiday season. Marketing owned the overall re-positioning; but sales owned pricing; technology owned the road map; finance owned the revenue recognition aspect; legal owned new customer contracts; our partners co-owned strategy. Every executive on the team assumed a piece of the effort, and communicated succinctly to all parties from concept to refinement to preparation to full execution.
When we own it, the combined power of phenomenal skills and execution ensures that we will get a lot accomplished. We leveraged the momentum of Relevance 2.0 across additional programs in the new year—at the NRF Big Show, our global Customer Advisory Summits and Partner Summits. All these events continued what we referred to internally as “rolling thunder”—an ongoing volley of product demos, training and public positioning to further promote our most important initiative of the year.
Keep it simple
There is no single scenario where complexity is good.
As an example, for a couple of years, it was evident that we needed to re-vamp our customer-facing dashboard. It was unwieldy and non-intuitive for customers; they were limited to looking at reports and creating rules. More complex tasks like setting up MVTs, modifying layouts and managing strategies had to be handled internally—costing money and creating friction and challenge for our support staff. This forced the realization that we needed a self-support dashboard that could automate and streamline workflow.
So we dug deep into the most commonly used features with aim of reducing complexity, and eliminating repetitive tasks. In one case (creating a new placement), we were able to combine several independent systems into one workflow. We transformed a tedious task that typically took 5 minutes down to 10 seconds. This new UI was easier to understand, and produced more accurate results, as the user could see everything on one screen. Cutting through the layers of complexity to simplify workflow not only achieved the goal of sustainability and self-support, it also more than doubled customer usage, allowing our team to support more sites with same level of staff.
Get it done
Politics are not acceptable at a company of this size.
Continuing with the dashboard, our product manager knew that it would prove a challenge to convince many employees it could be done. The revamp had been tried in the past but absent properly allocated time and resources, it had floundered. But that didn’t hinder him—he went to battle armed with a plan. Using attractive mockups and a deck that detailed the numbers, he proved that the time savings by itself would be a huge internal win. Slowly but steadily, he convinced the rest of the team that not only was the new dashboard possible; it could be accomplished in a short amount of time without having to rebuild everything. By completely redoing the most commonly used pages, and ensuring that less frequented pages could match the look and feel of the new dashboard while remaining functional, he moved the team from tentative buy-in to whole-hearted endorsement. Giving the keys to the kingdom to the customer resulted in client empowerment while reducing internal challenges, creating time savings and enabling re-direction of resources to more strategic initiatives.
We have been going through significant change at RichRelevance over the last couple of years. This has been very demanding to all employees and the amount of work in front of us can sometimes seem overwhelming.
So in case of doubt—own it; keep it simple; get it done. Phenomenal things happen when our shared values and communication ensure that we can always answer the question “what are we doing every single day to make this company great?”
We are at the beginning of a significant journey to bring digital capabilities to the in-store environment and vice versa. Personalization should be a large component of this journey. Over the last couple of years, some retailers have deployed interesting omnichannel applications. Examples are those that allow consumers to check inventory or locate items in stores (Best Buy and Target respectively) or manage loyalty (Guess and Sephora). Also, some vendors have launched mobile shopping applications (like Shopkick, RetailMeNot or ShopSavvy). But still, very few of these initiatives are truly personalized.
Yet, the use cases and technology for personalization in omnichannel have never been more viable, and the imperative to get started more apparent.
Omnichannel personalization can be done at two levels. The first consists of pulling together consumer data from different channels to create a comprehensive profile of each consumer (omnichannel data). The second consists of deploying personalization across multiple channels (omnichannel touchpoints).
When these two levels are combined, the following is possible:
- Personalizing a single channel using omnichannel data
- Personalizing multiple touchpoints using single channel data
- Personalizing multiple touchpoints using omnichannel data
One example of personalizing a single channel using omnichannel data is what one of our customers in the upscale department store category did. By merging online intent data with store POS data and applying it to onsite recommendations, they were able to drive a 2.1% lift in website sales (compared to recommendations that utilized only online intent data).
One example of personalizing multiple touchpoints using single channel data is what Monsoon Accessorize, a UK high street apparel leader is doing. They use online intent data to personalize their onsite, in-store and mobile channels. The store solution integrates RichRelevance, Micros and YESPay to allow in-store sales associates to locate and sell a product anywhere in the UK supply chain and show shoppers an extended and personalized product range on their tablets.
Stores utilizing the solution see a 133% improvement in AOV, an increase in one item per check out basket, a 2% reduction in returns and improved customer experience ratings.
Delivering this type of access to rapid innovation is the reason we built our infrastructure and SOA (service-oriented architecture) platform for API-based personalization services. We call this platform Build™ and it provides our retail customers the intent data and functionality needed to bring offline data (like POS) from stores and call centers to the digital experience. This includes real-time data ingestion and export, model import and building, consumer profiles, product and content co-occurrence, segmentation and consumer ID matching. With this functionality, retailers can quickly explore, experiment and build personalization capabilities using an iterative cloud-based approach that doesn’t require data scientists or large investments in infrastructure.
This ability to rapidly innovate to build superior customer experiences through personalization is not limited to omnichannel retailers, it applies to pureplay etailers as well.
In the US, long-time customer Wine.com was able to test an age-old theory on the impact of recommending similar products based on the number of common attributes. Using Build, it developed and implemented a custom personalization algorithm that leveraged the intersection of multiple attributes and measured its performance against the existing set of pre-built RichRelevance algorithms. Not only was the speed with which Wine.com moved from concept to deployment to production unprecedented, the new “similar products” algorithm became one of Wine.com’s best performing strategies, generating about $5 per click.
Our expectation is that Build will become the personalization platform of choice not only for our retail customers, but also for many consumer-facing applications developed by multiple vendors in the space. Build has a light footprint, rich functionality, and is a super performing platform that can sit underneath Hybris, Demandware, Responsys, Exact Target, SLI Systems, HookLogic, Olapic, LivePerson, CrowdTwist and other applications to enable omnichannel personalization via APIs and services.
So make today your Day 1 and commit to omnichannel personalization. Analyze your current and/or future omnichannel applications, determine what different data sources can be used for personalization, decide how many channels you want to enable and then leverage Build to create a superior omnichannel customer experience. We’re here to partner with you each step of the way.