How Lingerie Retailer Cosabella Is Using Artificial Intelligence To Lift Sales
"As we continue to grow and expand and advance in the online digital world, we always want to make sure we are still connecting with customers in a genuine manner, and giving them the service and help they can’t often get online," says Cosabella CEO Guido Campello.
Lingerie brand Cosabella began its initial use of artificial intelligence to enhance its marketing efforts ahead of 2017’s Valentine’s Day, and saw a sales lift in email-driven” 2016 revenues by more than 60 percent compared to the prior year.
Now, as it looks to this year’s Valentine’s Day and beyond, the Miami-based lingerie brand has more fully integrated AI technology into its CRM system to better connect online and offline shoppers.
Cosabella sells its Italian-made wares at its own NYC flagship boutique and through 1,000-plus U.S. physical locations via retail partners like Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Sak’s Fifth Ave., among others.
About six months ago, Cosabella began working with Snap+Style Business, a software company that markets personalization software to retailers. The lingerie brand served as a launch partner for Snap+Style’s StyleWidget, which enables customers to submit a personalized styling request directly on Cosabella’s desktop or mobile site.
When the request reaches Cosabella, its in-house stylists respond via email with a curated selection of merchandise designed exclusively for the customer, encouraging purchase or further engagement with the brand. The tool is part of Snap+Style Business’s Visual Merchandiser platform.
The initial program generated a a 30 percent higher sales rate from customers for Cosabella. We checked in with Cosabella CEO Guido Campello and Anna Jensen, co-founder of Snap+Style, to see how the two worked together and what drove its sales.
GeoMarketing: How does Snap+Style fit into Cosabella’s total digital marketing program? What role or niche does the company fill?
Guido Campello: Snap+Style is a way to give our customers personalized styling and fit suggestions through our website and make customized suggestions for new products, styles and colors geared towards each client. It is promoted on our website near the search bars and customers use it to get personalized advice from a real, (human)consultant.
Snap+Style can be accessed by computer or handheld device and by filling out a quick question form, we can see what they want help shopping for – styles, colors, sizes, occasion.
With S+SB, we can streamline what the customer is looking for, find it for them, style it together in a collection or lingerie wardrobe for them -in their size and color choice- and lay it out for them (in a picture email). It is quick and easy for the customer but helps them get specific advice and direction while lingerie shopping.
How do you describe Cosabella’s approach to personalization and balancing virtual and real interactions with customers?
GC: As we continue to grow and expand and advance in the online digital world, we always want to make sure we are still connecting with customers in a genuine manner, and giving them the service and help they can’t often get online.
S+SB gives us the tool and format to cater to their personal request and help the client get the product that will fit them and work well for them, with personal commentary on how to wear it/pair it, just like you could if you came into our Cosabella shop and got help from our sales associates.
Then, we can use our data from the requests to see what clients really are looking for, what they need help and suggestions with, and what are their top color choices and top style choices which helps us streamline our production and stock.S+SB helps Cosabella be the Personal Lingerie stylists and Fit Experts for the client from the comfort of their home.
Cosabella credits Snap+Style with 30 percent increase in sales related to requests submitted by customers via the Snap+Style platform. What accounted for that 30 percent gain?
GC: Since S+SB format allows us to merchandise the products in an eye-catching way, we are able to steer the client to see the whole collection, and lingerie/sleepwear sets, to create outfits and lingerie wardrobes that work together.
This helps us sell multiple products and “add on pieces” to clients who useS+SB. This “upselling” increases the total sales – sometimes we can sell 8 items in one request. In a 5-month period we sold $11k, before coupons and discounts, and the conversion rate was 32.95 percent. That is a great response in the retail world. Specifically, have seen an increase in our AOV and the overall size of the checkout basket.
Going into Valentine’s Day, how do you expect Snap+Style’s role to help shape sales — and do you see a role for the platform in driving offline/in-store sales as well as online?
GC: We always expect traffic to increase on our site near Valentines, one of the top lingerie shopping holidays of the year. The average spending per person for Valentine’s Day is $116.21 during the $13 billion holiday.
While jewelry, flowers and chocolates get a large share of the market, lingerie spending for this holiday is in the millions and has been increasing the last few years.
We already get S+SB requests from significant others needing help picking out the perfect gifts for their wives/girlfriends, so we expect to see those requests increase, as well as from women looking for their own perfectly sultry Valentine’s Date Night look. There will no doubt be lots of “Sexy” and “red” requests, and we can steer them to their perfectly flirty lingerie, like our Bisou Naughtie collection with the open back Bisou Naughtie hotpant and the Bisou Naughtie Bralette, featuring “visible underboob.”
As with other avenues of online shopping, clients do find products online and then head to stores when they want to see it in person, or try it on before buying it, or quickly pick up replenishment items like those lacy Never Say Never Skimpie G-strings that they already purchased online.
Also, we have seen a lot of styling requests come through on help for gift ideas for wives/girlfriends, we expect these types of requests to increase especially around Valentine’s Day. Because the foundation of the platform is around communication, we will encourage our customers to come into the store through our messaging.
Silvia Campello, Cosabella’s president and COO, noted that the company’s site was revamping its search functionality during a presentation at NRF’s Big Show this month. How are you improving search tools for shoppers?
GC: We recently added filters to our search functions. And S+SB continually gets updated with new terminology, space for personal comments and merchandising layout options.
In-person styling terminology can be different and more specific in conversation than it is in defined terminology used in manuals and training materials. Bringing search words into common styling language is key going forward.
When Cosabella first started working with Snap+Style Business in, what did you see as the main assignment and how has the work for Cosabella evolved since then?
Anna Jensen: Cosabella is an innovative, tech friendly company. They are constantly trying to innovate the customer experience. AI and Human Engagement are 2 areas they focused on in 2017. Human and engagement, discovery, and conversion is at the core of the Snap+Style Business platform. People are looking for a personalized experience and the ability to interact with someone. Cosabella is a great partner and it’s been exciting to see the high level of traffic and the amount of data we are providing them through our platform.
How did Snap+Style start?
AJ: S+SB is a B2B2C engagement platform. We launched a B2C app with our team of professional stylists in September 2015. The purpose was to gain insights and data on how customers and stylists would engage with the platform. From those learnings they developed a B2B offering for brands and retailers that launched end of Q1 in 2017.
Cosabella was our first brand partner that launched in June 2017.
S+SB’s focus to date has been brands/retailers but the platform itself is vertically agnostic. Anything that needs a visual, curated experience our platform will handle.
Can Snap+Style Business’ personalization platform take advantage of social shopping tools on platforms like Instagram?
AJ: We have a lot of synergy with Pinterest. We see a lot of requests that come through that are screenshots of an outfit/look they found on Pinterest and say “Style Me like this.” The customers are then purchasing the product through our platform and pinning their personalized looks to their boards.
Through what channel does Snap+Style Business drive most of the sales for brands like Cosabella?
AJ: Mobile, iOS.
Can Snap+Style Business connect consumers and brands through voice-activated assistants like Alexa, Siri, Okay Google? If not, any plans in that area?
AJ: Yes, we view voice as another way to start the discovery journey with the S+SB platform.
Can Snap+Style Business’ platform also lead to in-store/offline sales?
AJ: Yes. The platform’s foundation is communication between stylists/store associates and customers. In their personal messages back to the customers they encourage them to come in-store to try the recommended product on. The store associates are using this as their digital black book.
It is a clienteling tool that helps build and sustain these relationships while tracking the customers purchase history, likes/dislikes etc.