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Driving Mobile Conversion with Gap, Lilly Pulitzer, and Gilt

Ashley Sefferman  //  August 22, 2017  //  26 min read

We had the pleasure of hosting Andrew Wang, Sr. Manager, Product Management at The Gap; Laura Poatsy, Mobile Experience Supervisor at Lilly Pulitzer; and Sophia Huang, Sr. Product Manager at Gilt for a conversation on mobile conversion at our Customer Love Summit.

Although The Gap, Lilly Pulitzer, and Gilt approach their retail strategies differently, they all share one common trait: These brands are laser-focused on mobile conversion through improving customer love.

In the video below, our panelists share how they earn customer love through mobile innovation, and how that drives tangible business results by increasing conversion, retention, loyalty, and ultimately, revenue. The experts then share actionable advice on how to measure the success of mobile innovation and the ROI of customer love, and how to create a seamless omnichannel experience.

If you’d rather read than listen, you can check out the full transcript below. Enjoy!

Transcription

Dina: Good morning, everybody. How about this view, right? So, just getting started with our panel, “What’s Love Got to Do With it?” Specifically creating really compelling experiences that convert. I want to get started by having our fine panelists briefly introduce themselves. Just kind of a little information about your title and role. Maybe start with Laura.

Laura: Hi, my name is Laura Poatsy. I’m with Lilly Pulitzer. For those who don’t know who Lilly Pulitzer is, we’re a women’s clothing retailer that specialize in bright blue printed clothing resort wear. I am the Mobile Experience Supervisor there, so it’s my job to make sure that whether you’re on our native app or our mobile website, that you’re having a superior experience. Yeah.

Sophia: I’m Sophia Huang, Senior Project Manager at Gilt, otherwise known as HBC Digital. We have a bunch of umbrella brands under our offering, and primarily we’re speaking about Saks Fifth Avenue here, working on mobile styling project, and we’ll speak further.

Andrew: My name is Andrew Wang. I’m a project manager at Gap Inc. I recently helped lead a team that launched four brand new iOS apps for our four brands. Now, I’m working on solar technologies and evaluating and experimenting with emerging technologies for our store space.

Dina: And your moderator, Dina. I do product strategy at a company called Prolific Interactive. We’re a mobile agency that does product design, development, strategy, as well as mobile growth. We have the privilege of working with wonderful companies like these. I just want to add a little bit of context, so that if you are in retail eCommerce, obviously these folks are very relevant to you. If you’re not, they’re still facing some really interesting challenges or working on some really interesting opportunities that I think is good context.

For Lilly Pulitzer for example, and we’ll get more into this, currently working on and digging into machine learning. It also is a multi-generational brand, which I think is really interesting from the context of trying to serve and speak to different generations of customers, especially as Millennials.

For Sophi recently, as part of that mobile styling, digging into iMessage. Recently launched an iMessage app. Really kind of interesting consideration in terms of conversational commerce. And for Gap, in case you don’t know, it is like a multi-brand company, right? So, under the umbrella of Gap brands is Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta and Gap. Within the last year, they switched all four brands over from a hybrid app to native apps. So, I know that’s kind of a big consideration for folks, is what format, what platform, what makes the most sense?

With that, first and most important question about “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” is, what do we mean when we say love? I would love to hear from each of these panelists on what does love look like in terms of your mobile experience and how do you measure that? How do you know that you’ve delivered love to your users?

Laura: I can start. Our app is mainly geared toward providing that superior shopping experience that she’s used to, in any of our channels, but then also using the app as a portal to engage with the brand. Giving her kind of a differentiating factor that has her keep coming back to the app and enhancing her brand experience. We have a very loyal following, so our consumers are really, really hungry for anything that we throw out at her. So, using the app as a way to kind of engage with her and allow her to discover the brand. It definitely is way more of an engagement tool than a revenue driver, so we’ve really focused on retention and loyalty in that respect. So, that’s how I know she loves us.

Dina: Thank you. How about you, Sophi?

Sophia: Sure. I’m probably aware that not many of you understand what iMessage is. It’s actually an app within, sort of, Apple that allows you to send text and build upon iOS update feature. There’s more robust capabilities to it. For love in particular, our understanding is that the customers are taking a lot of their commerce decisions in the conversational chat of their everyday with their family and friends. So, understanding where the customer is at and then building a product to serve and be where the customers are so we can help you make your buying purchase decisions and reduce friction to check out.

Andrew: For Gap, one of the ways we show love for our customers or for our users is that we try to make everything as simple and seamless as easy for them to use. One of our key target personas that we model towards is the really busy working mom. She shops deals for her family and she shops for herself. We try to make it easy to surface deals and promos for her to do her shopping, to browse and to check out. We hear that in the reviews and in ratings all the time.

Dina: It’s interesting seeing the very different kind of usage and perspective on what love can look like. For the purpose of the next few questions, let’s say that delivering love to your users is all about not just meeting but exceeding their expectations. To start, because it’s more of a fun approach, let’s talk about when you guys didn’t meet expectations. So, other end of the spectrum. I’m gonna say “hate,” but customers were not thrilled with what you did. What happened and how did you know that you failed to deliver love? Let me start with Andrew.

Andrew: For us, as Dina mentioned earlier, we were moving from hybrid apps to brand new redesigned native iOS apps. Our existing customers are very loyal. They’re very passionate about our brands, so they were very used to the features that were available on the hybrid apps. When we decided to redesign and launch, we did a very MVP version. So it was very basic. Shop, browse, check out, and buy. We left out a certain number of features that we didn’t realize that our customers, or really passionate customers used many, many times. One of those, for example, is, right off the bat we left out product reviews.

We got a lot of feedback that our customers, when they shop in stores, they actually used the app, not to covert but to help them decide on products as they’re browsing the stores. We quickly fixed that and put that back in, in the follow-up version. We’re constantly learning from our mistakes, listening to our customers.

Dina: Thank you for admitting to mistakes. I appreciate that. Do you guys have examples of times where you failed to deliver the love?

Sophia: iMessage is a product that’s built from scratch at Saks, and unfortunately we don’t have enough data yet to say we failed. However, I want to quote sort of a case study from my time at CheapOair. It’s a travel agency that allows you to book hotels, car rentals and also flights online. You would expect that based on certain criteria after you click on that search, in the flight search results, all the listings on there is gonna meet your criteria. However, due to business drivers, we understand that CheapOair is a cheap…having the “Cheap” in its brand name, understand that a lot of customers are actually price sensitive.

In the flight search results, in the top priority two sections, it’s actually flexible dates. Once you run a search, we didn’t actually serve you the flights that meet your criteria, and a lot of customers are confused and are calling customer service and whatnot. From business sort of point of view, it ended up being about 12% of our revenue driver. We understand there’s a lot of frustration and also confusion around that flight search result not meeting your expectation. However, it’s also, as a product manager, finding sort of the balance between business drivers and customer goals.

Laura: As I mentioned earlier, we really use the app as an engagement tool with our consumer. About 70% of our consumer base on the app is driven by our top 10% of our revenue paying customer, so they are super loyal to the brand and they’re really used to knowing everything first and really having that exceptional experience. We did not realize that with our app consumer until much later. We were super segmenting our push notification and doing them a little bit delayed at some point. So, the consumer that was signing up for the push notifications wasn’t getting that information. She wasn’t the first to know, and she let us know that she expected to have that…the app for her is that kind of superior driver for her shopping experience and she really expected us to give her all the information and upfront and she really wanted to be the first to know. So, having kind of that feedback to be able to retail our strategy and really make it… We don’t have a loyalty program but really use the app, it’s a way to serve as the loyalty program is one of our many mistakes.

Dina: Flipping it around, if you want to continue. What’s a situation or feature where you did deliver love and you saw that in terms of your KPIs and business results? What’s something positive?

Laura: One of the biggest product redesigns that we did was redesigning our discover page, which is what 90% of our consumers that organically come to the app will land on. Previously, before the redesign, it was a very static feature. We had redesigned it a few times but just couldn’t get it quite right, and it was mainly because it was really static and cumbersome to manage. We did a complete overhaul, made it way more dynamic, interwove some of, like I said, these brand engagement features that we have. iMessage emojis and photo frames and UGC, which is user generated content. You know, pulling social feeds in and then scattering product in through that. It was way more dynamic, way more engaging. It gave her a variety of ways to shop and get to the conversion at the end of the funnel. We had an overwhelming response from right off the bat and continuing still to this day.

Dina: What did that look like? Was it reviews? Did you see the numbers change?

Laura: Yeah, definitely KPIs. Discover was one of our biggest places of drop-off. And so, you know, having that be your landing page is a little bit alarming. So, actually getting her to go through the conversion funnel was one of the first things. We saw session length increase, obviously more events. And then, yes, obviously through Apptentive. She’s very vocal. She likes to be heard. Our consumer likes to be heard. So, we definitely know when we’re doing something wrong and we definitely know when we’re doing something right. She definitely shared the love with us through a variety of ways.

Dina: Cool. How about you, Andrew? What are one of the wins or features that really clearly delivered love?

Andrew: Yeah, for us it’s something that’s super, super simple. It’s basically Touch ID. It’s something that’s available on all iOS devices. For us, when we built our app, we are leveraging our ecomm back end, our APIs, so we are tied to our ecomm rules. One of the things that we were tied to with the old hybrid app was 30-minute time outs. So every 30 minutes, all our customers have to log back in using that little keyboard.

But when we did a redesign and then a version later we put in Touch ID, it was easy. Like, it goes back to what we were saying before. We want all our users to have a simple and easy experience, and this was just something that you don’t really think about but it really saves time for our users. We heard about it. We tend to have two different types of feedback, like from new users or loyal users that have been with us since the hybrid app, and this was just easy win for both types.

Dina: How about you, Sophi?

Sophia: As I mentioned, we’re still in early phases of the project and not so much in sort of defining success moments. However, what’s interesting about this project is that we’re building a product to allow you to have a personal shopper at scale, with customers in the conversational interface. So leveraging the expertise of all the fashion authoritative experts of Saks Fifth Avenue and then connecting it to the everyday customer, which you’ll have a personal shopper to talk to at any point in time in conversations.

Currently, it’s a two-sided platform. On the one hand, we’re looking at customers. On the other, we’re measuring success in terms of stylists. We have ran a handful of workshops in the stores. And with the support of Prolific Interactive, we were able to get great feedback and comments from the stylists that we ran training with. Of 50 stylists in the stores, about at least 10 of them expressed interest in carrying this further, and it just streamlines our workflow and in store selling experience. That’s the best feedback we’ve gotten.

Dina: Cool. Yeah, I think it’s interesting what you point out, Andrew, is that delivering love and a win in conversion, it doesn’t always have to be the biggest, most obvious, latest technology. It can be something very simple. It really all comes down to understanding what your core expectations are from the customer and what they really need and want. Sometimes it can be something simple and straight forward and may seem obvious and like all apps have it, but you deliver it and it can make a world of difference depending on who your user is.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. For us, it’s something that she probably didn’t even notice but it’s just like something that’s in her head and she’s already expecting it and we just made that happen for them.

Laura: I would say we have actually switched a good majority of our road map for this year to really focusing on these simple wins that are gonna make a huge impact. We’re adding order tracking to the app so that she can just use that. Meeting her in these mobile moments and these things seem so simple to us but they really do make a huge impact. We’ve switched from kind of those shiny objects to making these very simple adjustments that are really gonna make her meet her customer expectations.

Dina: This coming from the person who is also starting to work on machine learning, speaking of shiny objects. I wanted to kind of switch over to some of the hot topics. We hear about things, some of them have been around for a little bit, some are a little bit newer. Conversational commerce, things like personalization, omni-channel experiences. So, starting with a little bit about personalization. There’s a whole spectrum of what that could look like, right? As far as what you guys are looking into, how did you decide to get into this? What does that look like and what does it mean for your business?

Laura: Yeah, so personalization just as a company, you know, from marketing to the ecomm side is a keyword both internally and obviously, we all know, externally. That was a big challenge for us, is finding ways to integrate that throughout the entire customer experience. We were presented an offer from one of our partners to be part of a beta that is ultimately gonna lend itself to one-to-one machine learning experience.

We are the first in the app space, with this company, to do that. We wanted to dip our toe in the water and our website has little bits of it scattered throughout. So we took some of the learnings that our website has and really pulled them over into the app side. We’re launching, hopefully, on Friday, so stay tuned. But, you know, machine learning is a very, very long journey. We’ve experimented it in different ways to get personalization, whether it be location services and really meeting her there.

Like I said, it’s a long journey but the end goal for us is to have a completely personalized experience so that when she comes…if Sophia and I are looking at our app, she’s seeing something that’s completely tailored to her. This first experiment that we’re doing is very basic but allowing us to just let the machine learn. It’s geared towards our three main life cycle personas and showing her specific content as to where we believe she is, based on her life events and then kind of building on it from there. So, stay tuned but that’s our first experiment and we’re excited to get going in there.

Dina: Just a little bit more because it’s super interesting. For this first phase, from a customer’s perspective, am I gonna see anything different or is it just the machines doing its thing and picking up information?

Laura: What you’ll see, there’s gonna be a new module added to our Discover page. It’s just gonna be catalogued marketing content that you’ll see. She won’t see a huge change. The best part about machine learning is hopefully that you don’t know there’s a machine behind it. We want to make sure that she isn’t seeing anything alarming and that it’s very cohesive with the experience that she’s used to and obviously adds and builds on that rather than takes away.

Dina: Cool. I think the other really interesting consideration for other folks who are looking into something like this. How have you been able to do it or what does it mean for your company in terms of resources, like internally? I think you said you’re partnering with somebody, but in terms of what it takes from a technology perspective, people perspective, to even just dip your toe into that?

Laura: We’re really lucky and we’re able to partner with one of the companies that we work with. From a resource perspective, that definitely took off a lot of the burden. But internally, we’re a very lean, small team. With app and web, we’re about 20 people. That includes all of our engineers, all of our product owners, operations managers, that type of stuff, UX designers. We’re still pretty lean. And so, this definitely was a huge initiative that we knew going into this year was something that we wanted to focus on and planned for it accordingly so that it was a big piece on our road map. It was a huge priority.

For our website especially, we definitely rallied around it. There’s a lot that goes into the prep work. Like your CRM system has to be impeccable. There’s a lot of data that needs to be clean and right before you can even start talking about implementing the machine. There is a lot of integrations on that side that we needed to make sure was accurate and going well, and then, of course, just the general implementation. Like I said, it’s a partner that we have been working with for a while. We use them for A/B testing on our website. So, thankfully, that integration was already put in place and we just had to kind of just take it that next step further, but definitely it was something that we planned for and made a big priority.

Dina: Nice. Cool. Thanks for sharing all that. My hope is that you guys learn enough that you want to come and chat with these folks afterwards and get more information about what they’re thinking, what they’re doing. I would love to dig in a little bit more on the conversational commerce front to hear about what the direction of an iMessage app versus, let’s say, a chat bot and how you’re rolling it out and how you know when you’ve achieved customer love and really kind of delivered a win for the business?

Sophia: Sure. We’re thinking of it in two parts. iMessage actually has a stand-alone app store within your chat bubble. To all your friends and family, there is a separate app store to download iMessage and it acts as a stand-alone or a package as extension of iOS app. To that end, it helps you send photos, text, stickers and basically acts as a view within the conversation without relying on the app. So that’s an introduction of iMessage for those who do not know.

We decided to go this route, of thinking of it as a pilot first in terms of the technical interface with the long term vision, thinking that it will incorporate machine learning and personalization and eventually having an automated personal shopper at your hands, at your disposal, anytime where that be. In terms of the scalability and roll out in the phases, that’s sort of where we’re currently at. In the pilot, we invited 50 stylists in downtown New York in two stores to participate.

For our later phases, we’re really thinking about new customers. In the pilot, we targeted local. We targeted also really specific, small demographics within metropolitan New York City and also existing customers that had previous relationships with stylists. Future… you can envision that we’re scaling up to the entire universe of all our Saks customers and where they be at, we will be there to serve them.

There are a couple of phases to the project in terms of personalization. The way we think about building loyalty is really relationship based. From interviewing closely with the Saks Fifth Avenue shoppers in the club, we understand that these shoppers really understand who you are, what your lifestyle is like, what are your favorite colors, how your size variation differs between brands and sometimes where you go for your vacation, for your events and occasions. For us, it’s really the high touch human factor and communication behind personalization that’s relationship driven. To focus that and to grow that, would take us to the conversations that happen between the customer and the stylist. To that end, we’re really thinking that personalization comes from facilitating the relationship and pushing it further.

Secondly, we’re also thinking of sort of being accessible. So replicating and building a digital service that mimics sort of the everyday of your current conversations with the stylist. Being accessible and having a fun, simple experience. You can imagine if you’re planning a beach getaway, you can receive a bundle of product recommendations to create that look or you could send a photo of this little black dress you don’t know how to put together, and the personal shopper could come back with a bunch of recommendations on how to complete the look from that end.

On the back end, in parallel, we’re collecting all this data to ensure that we could create cluster profiles of customer insights that will eventually be automated for later phases to come. Organizationally, Gilt is known for making headway in technology and personalization. We have a personalization tool lab where we have brand following, size preferences say for you. Saks is integrating with the Gilt team and building out what would be the fashion personalization, long-term road map to come.

Dina: You said you were starting with a pilot of about 50 stylists, what sort of feedback are you getting and then how do you know when you’re ready to move on to the next phase? What does the next phase look like for you when you’re ready to move beyond this particular kind of test phase?

Sophia: Yeah, so the pilot is 50 stylists with existing customers. It’s a sort of engagement play. It’s not a direct conversion booster that’s gonna lift your bottom line right away. However, we’re thinking based on the bundles of product recommendations that you receive open and all the sessions that you end up chatting with your personal advisor, does that help bring the shopper back? Does it bring them into the store where we’re currently experiencing drop off? Does it also reduce friction and being able to anticipate your needs versus react to your needs? So, being intelligent, being accessible and the high touch component will allow us to scale for later. These are the top issues we’re trying to figure out.

Then later on, we’re currently working through matching. How do we know enough about you to match you to the right personal shopper? It’s kind of like dating. There are couple of requirements. For example, we’re thinking it might be occasion-based or product-based, and then from there, we’re trying to hone in on your brand designer preferences. And then from there, we’re thinking of your size variations across brands. We’re currently in the process of figuring out the magic sauce of how one would be connected to a personal shopper of their choice.

Dina: I think it’s interesting that you’re starting there because I think one of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard of chat bots and that kind of conversational experience, is that it can be a trusted agent if it gets it right. But in the situations where it doesn’t and you recognize that it’s like a computer machine and there’s an inhuman conversation going on, it could really damage both the trust and the brand. By starting with the iMessage and the high touch approach, you’re not only able to collect data but really learning about the conversations that are had between two humans and maybe able to roll that into your experience later on.

Sophia: Yeah, one other fun aspect of this project, unlike any other before, was the operational aspect. I was able to be really close to the stylist and the personal shopper of the exclusive Fifth Avenue club. They actually offer free styling service and champagnes and bubbles and do online sort of wardrobing for all your needs. I was able to follow them a couple of times on how they would meet new customers. A couple of them said they show their Instagram profiles, they walk the floor with the customer, take notes on what the things the customer would grab and just talk about their everyday. They would be like, “Oh, I am going to a bridal shower. What should I dress? What’s the theme here? Oh, you have a baby coming. How do you feel about the Oscars [inaudible 00:29:09] currently?” It’s really relationship and not so much directly transactional to that end to build your conversions. That’s where we are thinking as a magic, sort of key ingredient to we match you to the right person.

Dina: That makes a lot of sense. Another hot topic, not necessarily a new topic, is the concept of a seamless omni-channel experience. I think, Andrew, it’s fun to talk to you about that because, obviously, we work together closely when you’re really focused on the mobile experience and converting from hybrid to native and now you’re on the store’s innovation team, thinking about technology and stores. From your perspective, what are some of the challenges of delivering a seamless omni-channel experience?

Andrew: Yeah, right off the bat, a company as large and with such a history as Gap, we have traditionally thought of more physical storage space and/or ecomm space as two separate entities. We capture sales in one channel and we don’t reconcile with the other. The dream would be to marry the two customer data together. It’s really difficult for us to, as the shopper comes through the lease line, be able to self-ID, to identify who they are so we can look up their data. It’s also difficult for us…for shoppers that browse online and on the phone to sign in so that we know what their previous browsing history is. We don’t want to be super creepy but we do want to make it easy for you guys to shop.

Laura: A little creepy is okay.

Andrew: I mean, everybody is different, right?

Laura: Look, if you’re adding value to the user, there’s times when people like…

Andrew: That’s exactly right. It’s really up to us. It’s our job to make sure there’s a compelling enough value proposition so that the user wants to share that data with you. That goes into a lot of other issues like what kind of data, what kind of PI, what kind of privacy issues? I do believe that it is our job to give enough of a reason that our customers want to share that data with us. We haven’t really figured out that line yet but that’s something that we’re working on.

Dina: I do think it’s a great call-out of understanding the level of comfort that a person can have in terms of their privacy and what’s the creepy line. So every different customer is gonna streamline…

Andrew: Just give it a different name. Let’s not call it creepy.

Dina: We’re inventing something here. No, but it’s important, and it just reminded me, I was talking to somebody about this recently. A Friday evening, I was going to order an Uber on the way home, and you know how it gives you the three suggestions. So for a Friday evening around 7:00, my three suggestions were home, Popson’s, which is a burger place in San Francisco, and Taco Bell. I was like, “Uber, you know me so well. If I’ve had a good day, I’m going home. If I’ve had an ‘Ugh’ kind of day, I’m going to Popson’s. If I’ve had a shit day, I’m going to Taco Bell.”

Andrew: Because that Taco Bell actually serves alcohol in San Francisco.

Dina: Yes, the Taco Bell Cantina. Exactly. Speaking to like understanding, for lack of a better term, what the creepy line is. But no, where you should ask versus where you can deliver personalization with machine learning and those kinds of things. What are some of the tools and techniques that you guys have used, whether it’s like tool platform or a different technique or methodology to really understand your customer? I know you have more than one, but really understand your customer and what their expectations are and what their comfort level is and stuff like that?

Andrew: Yeah, I’ll start. For us, we use Apptentive to poll our users on what features they would like to see next. We do this because it goes back to we want to make everything as seamless and easy for our customers to use, and the best person to know that would be themselves. We take in their suggestions and then we partner with Prolific to do frequent user studies.

I really like these because we go out, us and the interaction designers, we go out to the stores. After a customer checks out, we talk to them. This happens every week. We show them design prototypes to see if that interaction makes sense, to see if that seems intuitive. Then also at Gap, we have a really strong consumer insights team. We leverage them, they help us collect a large panel of very specific users and then they bring them in for user studies and usability sessions.

Dina: I think it’s a great call-out for Apptentive, not just because this is a conference. But when you make a change in your customer experience, that’s a big deal. People generally don’t like change, and going from the hybrid experience, where you have the full feature set of the website, to a native experience which isn’t gonna have everything the website has and it shouldn’t because that’s not what you should be doing. There’s gonna be a transition where you really need to understand, what are the most important things to users? I think just having an experience like that really helps with the trust and understand where they’re coming from and what they want and why.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. For us, building a brand-new native app, that native app is a very new concept to Gap. We launched our last brand just a few months ago, so we’re very much more immature than everybody else here. Right now, we’re just in the phase of trying to figure out what our customers want. What can we do to make life easier for them? We’re trying to find out what that best product fit is.

Dina: Sophi, I know you kind of have two customers, in a way, for the iMessage app, both the stylist and then the customer. How are you going about understanding kind of those dual needs?

Sophia: In general, for the iOS app, we use Apptentive and also our in-house sort of user testing research, and it’s been super helpful. Apptentive is still referred to on a weekly basis in terms of a conclusion that we draw from it, and then we rank them, we prioritize them and then bubbles up to the priority road map that will be informed for the team.

For mobile styling in particular, with the help of Prolific, we were able to conduct a series of about 33, 34 interviews that was ongoing. Half of them were customers, half of them were stylists. Ongoing throughout the development phase, we would show prototypes and validate our hypothesis within that user testing weekly scenario. What was fun about it, currently, that I can speak to in detail is, we decided to support two top persona. The two top persona we have in terms of the customers in mind, we build out features specifically for them. For example, our top persona has ongoing sort of needs to find items, so it’s more of a concierge service for the trendy shopper and with upcoming increasing spending power but short on time, busy. They just want to find that item. Maybe they’re spending $4,000, $5,000 a year already. And so, how could they be more cautiously making that purchase decision?

Secondly, if they’re sort of short on time, maybe they have sorted and filtered throughout the iOS app multiple times and still cannot find that item. Through mParticle and probably Amplitude to come, we can segment out those customers and target specifically in context of your mobile frustration and serve you a connection to a personal shopper.

Laura: Yeah, so very similar to the previous two answers but we took a lot of our best practices from our time with Prolific. Really, our number one tool is getting out in front of the consumer. We try and do two to three formal sessions with about 10 customers like three times a years, and that helps to identify our road map moving forward. People are very honest in person, so it’s a great way to kind of flush out what our upcoming priorities and that type of stuff are.

On a more regular basis, we’re constantly sending out surveys, we’re using Apptentive. Apptentive is a great tool for us so that she’s not leaving any bad reviews in the Apple Store. She can come directly to us and we can work with her on a one-to-one basis. And then of course all of our analytics tools. We love Amplitude, and really, they have a lot of great tools for event segmentation, a lot of engagement matrices and behavioral cohorts. So, just constantly looking at the data that way.

We really leverage our UX team and the insights that they’re able to get from the mobile website and even our desktop website. There’s still a lot to learn there and we can kind of look at the full spectrum of what we’re offering her from a variety of the channels and really kind of inform our road maps from there. I would say those are our most frequently used resources.

Dina: Yeah, that’s a good list. Awesome. One more hot topic I wanted to cover before we run out of time, loyalty. Again, not necessarily new but something that we hear people talk about often. So whether you have a formal loyalty program or not, I’m interested in if you think for a native app specifically or native mobile experience, is it for loyal users or is it, like, for delivering experiences or engagement for your loyal users? Or is it more about kind of new users, getting folks in the door and building loyalty? Or is there somewhere in between? Anyone? Maybe Andrew. What’s your perspective on that?

Andrew: Yeah, sure. Again, when we redesigned the app, the user that we targeted was for our most loyal and passionate users. It just so happens most of those customers happen to have branded loyalty. I’m sorry, branded credit cards. A significant portion of our development was…

Dina: Does anyone have a branded credit card, by the way? Because they give amazing rewards.

Andrew: Thanks.

Dina: Quick plug.

Andrew: A lot of credit card providers like Citibank or Chase, they have their own app to help you discover or manage your credit card accounts. We partnered with our credit card provider, Synchrony, to build that into our native apps. From there, you can view your credit card activity, you can pay your bills, you can see when everything is due and you also can see your progress towards your next year or your next reward. For that, we felt like we hit the mark on that and it’s just another case of making everything available for our customers in a really easy to use one-stop shop.

Dina: Sophi, iMessage, was that a loyalty play for now? In the future, is it about bringing in new folks?

Sophia: Yeah, it’s definitely an engagement and loyalty play. The way we think about success is, how much of all the iOS app sales that resulted, what’s sort of the stylist assisted or a personal shopper assisted conversion rate and what are the orders and penetration in that sphere of world? We’re thinking loyalty mostly around relationship driven sales, if I have not hammered the point home. So, relationship in terms of connecting to a personal shopper, you would be getting pre-sale exclusive information and almost a lot of in store promos ahead of everyone else. If you have been eyeing, let’s say, that Chanel bag. I know Chanel almost never goes on sale, so when it does go on sale, you want to be the first one to grab that pre-exclusive info or some kind of beauty event trunk show that happened in the store. We’re thinking of loyalty in driving extra traffic in and stands from the conversation of that personal shopper informing you as it comes in.

Also, from the relationship aspect, the ability to talk to someone for your everyday fashion needs. It’s pretty compelling if you don’t need to think about getting your stylist credentials but having a stylist by your side to assist you and to anticipate everything before you even know it. That’s how we’re thinking of building loyalty from there. Whether it’s driving online traffic, app traffic or in-store traffic or everyday conversations. The hypothesis is that these will be used to help make your purchasing decisions ongoing.

Laura: So, at Lilly Pulitzer, we actually don’t have a formal loyalty program. We run a full price business, so except for twice a year when we have these huge online sales which, if you’re familiar with, we break the internet constantly. But we have a very, very loyal customer. I think at least three people, since I’ve been here, have mentioned the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collaboration which is just one of the identifiers for how loyal our customer is.

I mentioned before that 70% of our user base is our top 10% of our consumers, so she is our most loyal and engaged consumer and she is hungry for anything Lilly Pulitzer. So while we don’t have a formal loyalty program, we use the app as kind of a pseudo loyalty program and really want to make sure that she is getting that exclusive experience that she expects when she downloads the app and really use that as one of our differentiating factors from all of our other shopping channels. Making sure that she feels special and that she’s getting all the information first and is one of the things that we really work towards and hold ourselves to.

Dina: It makes sense. It’s interesting that we happen to have three folks whose mobile experiences are very focused right now on the loyal customer and really building that loyalty. Just to be fair to point out that there are some…and I’d love to chat with some folks if they’re here, who are using the tactic of it’s about marketing new user acquisition and awareness and building loyalty. That’s an equally valid approach to your mobile experiences and that we just happen to have three loyalists on the panel right now.

Just in order to wrap up “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” What is your final thought or takeaway for the folks in this room in terms of what they can do to deliver love in a way that is not just like, “Hey, you guys are great,” but actually really drives conversion and the KPIs for your company? Do you want to start, Laura?

Laura: Sure. You’ve heard me say this a lot. It’s obviously hot in my mind, but making sure that with any sort of app, that you really do have a differentiating factor and you’re offering a service beyond what she can get anywhere else. That’s something that’s super hot in our minds as we’re creating our road maps and really looking towards the future, that we’re constantly innovating there and making sure that we’re meeting our consumers. As corny as it sounds, but it really is true. Meeting those mobile moments, because that’s what’s gonna keep the app alive and gonna keep her coming back with high retention rates.

Sophia: I’m gonna say this. It’s gonna sound cliché, but it’s empathy and really being on the ground and close to the stylists I work with. One of the key drivers in the success of the pilot is to ensure that the stylist can send product recommendations really well and build their individual business growth with commission’s automation in the background. Being in the training workshops allow me to see what their frustration is.

Throughout our discovery, we did at one point kind of lose sight of that goal, but then we were able to come back to it at the very end. And during the workshop, we delivered a moment where with long press you can send a product recommendation in one touch. At the end of the workshop, we showed that and all the stylists was like, “Oh my gosh, this is magic. You guys really understood what streamlining the workflow and time efficiency is for us.” For me, it was really being in all the user interviews as much as I could and being in the workshops and seeing how they used the product and see how it come to life.

Andrew: I would say, find out who your target mobile user is and let that be your North Star on building your mobile products for that customer. At Gap, when we did this redesign, we poured out a lot of sweat to make this happen. I think it’s definitely paid off, and if you happen to stray away from that path, those customers are gonna be your most passionate ones and you’re never gonna stop hearing the end of it. I think it’s very important to stay on that direction and just keep that focus.

Dina: I would just add to that, you know, the importance of having a very clear mobile point of view or strategy and why it’s the mobile point of view that’s both for what’s the difference between native and mobile web. Are you going after your most loyal customers or is this more of a marketing play where you’re going after new users? Does conversion need to happen in a native app or because of the native app? So really having that perspective and the relationship that you want your customers to have to the app. Is it about discovering inspiration? About hearing the latest? Is it more about utilities, search and discovery? What is your perspective on those things and how does that fit into your kind of broader product experience?

Then key to that, obviously, you’ve heard from every single person on this panel, is truly, truly understanding the people that you’re trying to win over. I think that’s about all the time we have. Thank you so much to our panelists. Please, do chat with them when you get a chance. They’re fascinating people who do fascinating things.

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
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