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Barneys pushes personalized content on mobile to drive conversions

August 14, 2014

0813Barneys185PHILADELPHIA – Clothing retailer Barneys is working hard to make sure the shopping experience on mobile devices is as personalized as possible by pushing product recommendations and other content based on browsing history, and connecting browsing to actual transactions.

The 30-store chain has an m-dot Web site and launched an application specifically for the iPad in April, and is now working toward launching a responsively designed site in the coming months. It currently counts more than half of its site visits as arriving via smartphones and tablets.

“We can now see that someone bought something online after they have browsed on the iPad app,” said Josh Lieberman, vice president of digital marketing at Barneys. “But we still consider it a success for the iPad app even if they don’t buy anything and just browse.”

Mr. Lieberman spoke on a panel Wednesday called “Breaking the Rules in Retail: Getting on the Fast Track for Growth and Innovation” at eTail East 2014 in Philadelphia.

Fresh content
Barneys populates the app with one fresh article each day, and then pushes those articles out to customers as appropriate based on their shopping patterns within the app.

“If you are shopping in the women’s shoes area, for example, we might send a push notification about new products in that section,” Mr Lieberman said. “Or if we have a new article that addresses that category, we push that as well.

“As we use more personalization and targeting across sites and applications, it’s important to get those recommendation right,” he said. “If you are pushing something to a customer that’s not relevant on your site or on your app, you are not going to convert that customer.”


One feature that the company has not been able to translate fully to mobile is the full array of product recommendations that it leverages on its desktop site, due to space constraints. Instead, it just selects a few of the top product recommendations to display on mobile.

Barneys also recently developed an internal search program that shows up to five product recommendation when people hover over certain areas of the site. The conversion rate for those who see those recommendations is five times higher than for those who do not, Mr. Lieberman said.

Another new feature Barneys has been testing is an analysis of product returns to determine how certain product sizes might vary across brands. For example, if it notices that people who usually buy a size 8 shoe in one brand try that size in another brand but end up exchanging it for an 8-1/2, it can use that information to make product recommendations to other shoppers.

“We are just starting this, but so far the results have been pretty positive,” Mr. Lieberman said.

Dynamic merchandising
Like Barneys, online men’s clothing retailer JackThreads also edits the customer experience somewhat for mobile shoppers. The company obtains 75 percent of its traffic through the mobile Web site or through mobile apps, said Daryl Millar, director of visual merchandising, at JackThreads.

While the company sees the importance of providing content to keep shoppers engaged and drive conversions, that is a challenge with the limited space available on mobile.


Josh Lieberman of Barneys and Daryl Millar of JackThreads

“We have streamlined the experience in the JackThreads app for commerce,” Mr. Millar said. “We want to provide a full experience, but how do you do that in the mobile space?”

JackThread is in the process of rolling out a system in which it will have dynamic merchandising based on real-time user behavior on each device. It expects to have it fully rolled out in the coming weeks.

“We have seen incredible impacts from merchandising differently across all our platforms,” Mr. Millar said.

Final Take

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Commerce Daily

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