Online retailers should not look at customer experience and sales conversion as different metrics for success, but should consider the natural connection between the two, says Amy McDowell, vice president of digital marketing at New York-based online jewellery retailer BaubleBar.com.
“I think they’re the same thing,” McDowell told SmartCompany.
“If the customer has a great experience, they will convert … A good experience leads to conversion and everything I do in digital marketing for Bauble Bar, has to convert.”
McDowell is in Australia as a part of the eCommerce Conference and Expo in Melbourne this week to share the story behind the success of the four-year-old startup, Bauble Bar.
Founded in 2011 by US entrepreneurs Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky, Bauble Bar does not disclose its revenue but has raised more than $US15.6 million ($20.25 million) in backing to date. Australia is now the third biggest market for Bauble Bar’s low-price jewellery, behind the US and Canada.
Ahead of her keynote presentation at today’s conference, McDowell shared three important lessons from Bauble Bar’s e-commerce success with SmartCompany.
1. Use social to your best advantage
McDowell says one of the most unique things about Bauble Bar is its dedication to the idea that online retailing is a social experience. She says the retailer realised early on its customers were sharing products with each other on social media networks and knew there was a significant opportunity to tap into that.
“Even from the beginning we realised that women love to share the shopping experience with friends,” she says.
“And jewellery – because unlike clothes it fits everyone and it makes you feel incredible – jewellery really lends itself to this selfie phenomenon.”
Bauble Bar set up an Instagram feed on every one of its products online, so followers could share images of themselves in the jewellery.
“We realised not only were our customers willing to be on Facebook wearing our products, but they were also willing to be on our site promoting the products,” McDowell says.
“They saw themselves and said, ‘Hey look, I’m a model’, and that really drove traffic to the site. The customers became our ambassadors, fuelled by their social experience.”
2. Get creative to drive customers to your site
McDowell says email marketing has always been one of the key marketing channels for Bauble Bar, but the company has tried to look at different ways to use EDMs to drive traffic to the site.
She says the jewellery category presented the problem that customers would only come to think of accessories in terms of accessorising with other clothing items, and so would only sporadically end up at Bauble Bar to look for new products.
“One thing we kept coming back to was how to get women to come back week after week?” she says.
As a solution, McDowell and her team created a weekly competition called “The Buried Bauble”, where customers would be sent a clue in their EDM about a product that had been slashed in price for one day only. Users would then hunt through Bauble Bar’s entire catalogue to find the hidden gem.
“It gave women a reason to come to the site,” says McDowell, who says the simple EDM metrics made it easy for the company to see how successful the click-through had been.
3. The importance of shipping
Having just recently started free shipping to its Australian customers, McDowell says Bauble Bar has noticed a direct correlation to offering free shipping and snagging bigger orders. The company offers free express shipping form the US to Australia on all orders over $100, matching its offer to its US customers.
“The ability to have a comparable free shipping offer has been huge for us,” says McDowell.
She says Bauble Bar’s sales have taken off since introducing the offer.
“We found women will add additional things to their basket to get things right away. It’s amazing that something relatively as simple as shipping could increase sales.”
McDowell believes any e-commerce business that is based on impulse buys should consider the importance of their shipping terms and offers.