July 28, 2011, 11:57 AM

Party time for personalization

Personalized offers drive up conversion rates at party supplies retailer Shindigz.

Lead Photo

Keith Bansemer, director of Internet marketing, says personalized offers have driven up conversion rates.

With more than 36,000 party supplies on its e-commerce sites, Shindigz had struggled for years to recommend just the right mix of items to site visitors such as a collection of personalized balloons, banners, mint tins, key chains and travel mugs that prom organizers might want to buy for the big high school dance.

“We simply couldn’t get the job done,” says director of Internet marketing Keith Bansemer, adding: “We might decide to recommend items we didn’t realize were out of stock or discontinued. It wasn’t a good shopping experience for the customer.”

And as Shindigz grew to four party supplies e-commerce sites—Shindigz.com, StumpsParty.com, AmericanProm.com and SpiritLine.com—it became even more difficult to maintain effective merchandising recommendations, he says. “If we made a mistake in recommendations, it could take years to get back to it,” he says.

The retailer’s personalization strategy changed in the fall of 2009, when it opted to deploy a personalization and product recommendation system from iGoDigital. Since integrating Shindigz’ product database, sales records, Google Analytics clickstream data and inventory management system with iGoDigital’s Customer Intelligence Engine, the retailer has increased its online conversion rate by 20% in each of the last two years, resulting in a combined increase of over 40%, Bansemer says.

The new system now automatically recommends products to each returning online shopper based on a combination of her personal shopping behavior, the interests shown by other shoppers looking for similar products and up-to-date information on the availability of inventory by particular product attributes. And, if products go out of stock, the recommendation engine’s integration with the Shindigz inventory management system enables it to automatically remove unavailable products from its recommendations.

The more Shindigz uses its new product recommendation engine, the better it can personalize offers because it has more data on what various types of shoppers ultimately buy, Bansemer says.

Shindigz has noticed that 21% of orders now include products that it had recommended to online shoppers, though Bansemer says he doesn’t have data to compare that percentage to products placed in a shopping cart before deploying the iGoDigital system.

The iGoDigital engine also integrates with Shindigz’ ExactTarget e-mail management system and its PowerReviews customer reviews application. Those connections enable the retailer to, for example, automatically e-mail customers who abandon shopping carts with recommendations of products that suit their interests and that have been highly rated by other shoppers.

 

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