October 11, 2004, 12:00 AM

How Lane Bryant peers into what the customer wants but can’t find

In February, LaneBryant.com began using ForeSee Results Inc.’s customer satisfaction survey to learn what customers want to buy but aren’t finding at the site. It adjusted inventory based on the results and same increased immediately, the company says.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Since Charming Shoppes Inc. began surveying shoppers at LaneBryant.com about what they are looking for but not finding, conversion rates have gone up significantly, Robin Baskin, vice president of Internet marketing for Charming Shoppes Interactive Inc., tells InternetRetailer.com.

The problem that Lane Bryant faced is that as a chain and not a catalog, it is not able to accept pre-orders and back-orders. So if a customer can’t find what she is looking for at the web site, the company has no way of knowing that it has lost a sale. “We needed information we couldn’t get from log files or analytics,” Baskin says.

In February, LaneBryant.com began using ForeSee Results Inc.’s customer satisfaction survey to learn what customers aren’t finding at the site. It adjusted inventory based on the results and same increased immediately, Baskin says. “The day we pushed deeper into levels of inventory, we saw conversions jump,” she says.

ForeSee conducts ongoing surveys of Lane Bryant customers, intercepting 0.2% of shoppers as they lave the site. It maintains a base of 300 current results and refreshes the base every time it obtains 60 new responses. Larry Freed, ForeSee CEO, says Lane Bryant’s use of customer satisfaction data is innovative; most customers use the data to measure how the web site is performing, often as an adjunct to an analytics program.

Baskin says Lane Bryant particularly likes using the data in relation to its direct marketing initiatives. Direct marketing drives shoppers to the site and ForeSee’s surveys help the company understand how customers respond to the marketing efforts.

Charming Shoppes plans to implement a similar strategy with its Fashion Bug brand by the middle of this month and its Catherine’s brand by the end of the year after it completes a re-design, Baskin says. Charming Shoppes owns the Lane Bryant chain and LaneBryant.com. A separate company, Redcats, owns the Lane Bryant catalog.

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