February 15, 2012, 10:39 AM

Retailers need to keep innovating to catch shoppers’ attention

Connect with shoppers on all available levels, an IRCE keynote speaker says.

Nesli Karakus

Senior Editor, Research

Lead Photo

Alexis Maybank

Online shoppers’ expectations are rising so retailers need to keep seeking ways to meet their needs, says Gilt Groupe chief strategy officer Alexis Maybank.

Maybank says Gilt, No. 49 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide,  aims to capture shoppers’ attention through personalization.

“We know so much about consumers coming to the site and we’re in a position to build the most personal shopping experience. We know who the customer is, what his color preferences are, what his sizes are and what his friends like,” says Maybank, who will deliver a keynote address at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2012  on June 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. titled “The Gilt Groupe: Innovative ways to connect with today’s consumer.”

Each day the flash-sale retailer sends 3,000 versions of its marketing e-mails with five to 10 sales that each customer would be most interested in from its roster of 20 to 30 available sales, Maybank says. Customers are also directed to landing pages that are personalized for them based on their purchase and viewing history.

In her address, Maybank will discuss the importance of mobile commerce particularly as younger shoppers who have grown up with smartphones come of age. “As increasingly younger generations start shopping they want it on their terms and on their time, so there will be a big shift into mobile devices and shopping,” says Maybank. Since launching mobile commerce about a year ago, sales from mobile devices have grown to comprise 25% of sales at Gilt, she says.

Maybank will also discuss how retailers can benefit from social media. “One thing that all retailers do and should do more often is find ways for their product to be inserted in the conversation. Allow people who are talking about your product to do it easily and make it easier for them to share,” she says. She also recommends viewing social media as an important customer support tool. “Respond to the negative comments as much as to the positive,” she says. “It has an impact on the brand, and customer loyalty is entrenched even more by doing so.”

Maybank says new social networks such as Pinterest can offer retailers greater opportunities to engage with customers. Pinterest is a site that enables users to create their own virtual bulletin boards by “pinning” images of things that they see and like on the web. For example, users can post recipes, jewelry, apparel and other items that they can share with friends and other visitors. Traffic to Gilt from Pinterest now rivals that from Twitter, Maybank says.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Maybank to speak because of her experience in building successful businesses. Maybank served as Gilt’s founding CEO, and today she serves as chief strategy officer. Prior to Gilt Groupe, she was general manager and business development director for AOL’s e-commerce businesses. In 1998, Maybank became an early member of the eBay team, where she helped launch the company’s first strategic planning group and later launched and ran eBay Canada, which grew to become Canada’s largest e-commerce business.

 

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