How To Humanize Your Retail Brand

In this chapter of our keynote series, we were fortunate to be hosting a panel of retail industry experts, moderated by Ed Kennedy, Senior Director eCommerce at Episerver.

By way of Q&A and anecdotes from their personal experiences, Valerie Hoecke, CDO, LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics, John Hazen, CDO of Boot Barn, Alan Wizemann, CDO of Dollar Shave Club, and Rachel Hocevar, VP of Client Success at Bazaarvoice, share their views on how to humanize your brand - and how to make that humanization a sustainable part of corporate culture.

Personalization or Humanization?

Some might argue that the two terms are interchangeable. But for many organizations, "personalization" is little more than a set of tweaks that greet website visitors by name, or allow consumers to customize certain aspects of a web portal or app.

Minor enhancements to the digital experience such as these are all very well, but when consumers look to brands to personalize their experiences, what they really mean is "make it more human."

At Dollar Shave Club (DSC), Alan Wizemann points to how the brand analyzes the various ways in which its members get ready for the day in front of the bathroom mirror in the morning. DSC then uses these insights as a basis for how products are pitched to individuals, as well as how they're ultimately delivered. The process extends from marketing campaigns right down to one-on-one engagements with individual members.

Letting Customers Inform Each Other

Rachel Hocevar of Bazaarvoice addresses the opportunities available for both brand-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer dialog. Reviews and testimonials from other customers carry weight - and hearing the brand narrative from the point of view of another consumer both humanizes the customer experience and allows your brand to build out this kind of interaction at a larger scale.

At Boot Barn, John Hazen describes how in-store associates are the primary information gatherers for how customers are able to use apps, find their way around, locate the products they want, and react to them. This data can then feed back into how the brand's online outlets assist and engage with consumers.

Humanized Journey Mapping

The key here is to analyze the behaviors of your consumers within the larger customer experience. You can then overlay demographics, segmentation, or other analytical considerations over these core (personal) observations.

It's telling that a poll of the audience asking "How many of you have spoken to a consumer in the last 30 days? A week? A few days?" doesn't receive a massive show of hands. But simply engaging with the customer on a one-to-one level can be very illuminating, and the kind of personal feedback you get can then fuel the often-simple changes that totally transform your customer experience.

As Valerie Hoecke puts it: "When people haven't interacted with customers, they don't think it's going to be that valuable. But everybody [who eventually does] has an Ah-ha! moment."

For more insights, join us at eTail Boston, happening this August 19 -22 at the Sheraton Boston! eTail is four days of action-packed stories, conversations, and connections with the top minds at America's most successful retailers. Download the agenda here for full details.

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