Debbie Hauss

Debbie Hauss

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Exclusive Interview: Moleskine CEO Tackles Brand Transformation

0aarrigoIn this exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Moleskine CEO Arrigo Berni explains the company's transformation, from a single branded notebook to a global retailer featuring branded boutiques and cafés.

Loyal consumers have depended on Moleskine as their go-to brand for notebooks, diaries, sketchbooks and planners since 1997. Designed based on products sold in Paris in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Moleskine brand was trademarked in 1997. By the early 2000s, sales reached $26 million; and the company was purchased by a European private equity firm in 2006. Moleskine products were sold in 22,000 stores across 95 countries by 2012; and the company went public in 2013.

5 Digital Transformation Tips From The Experts

Debbie head shotThe vibe at the 2016 eTail East show last week in Boston was invigorating. Each speaker was proud and enthusiastic about telling their own digital transformation story. Here are five top tips from execs at the conference, including:

  • Rose Hamilton, Chief Digital Officer, Vitamin Shoppe
  • Nick Taranto, Co-Founder and CEO, Plated
  • Wayne Duan, Director of Digital Commerce, Walgreens
  • Thoryn Stephens, Chief Digital Officer, American Apparel
  • Sandep Varma, VP, Enterprise CRM, Loyalty and Analytics, 1-800-FLOWERS

Pitfalls Of Success: 4 Red Flags Thrown At Uber And AirBNB

Debbie head shotI considered myself a loyal customer of Uber…until recently. I’ve used the service in several cities with ease. But I had a bad customer experience that now makes me think twice before opening the app. Here’s the story:

I needed to get to the Newark, N.J. train station from where I live in a nearby city —  and I didn’t really want to spend the extra dollars on a private car service — so I went to Uber. The app required me to type in the destination, which I did. When the car finally arrived (the driver got a bit lost) he asked me for the destination, then proceeded to tell me he couldn’t go there. Since I thought I might miss my train, I tried to convince him to go, and I mentioned that I put the destination into the app, so he should have known where I needed to go. He said Uber doesn’t tell him the destination and he is not allowed to go to that train station. He drove away; I was charged $5 for a cancelled trip. (I did eventually figure out the right place on the app to argue this charge and received a $5 credit.)

Convenience Economy Fuels Global Estate Sale Segment At EBTH: Exclusive CEO Interview

Andy Nielsen EBTHEvery retail segment can benefit from a more convenient way to purchase. That was part of the premise behind the development of EBTH (Everything But The House) back in 2008. Fast forward a few years: with 123% year-over-year growth and $30.1 million in sales in 2015, EBTH is resonating with a global audience, according to Andy Nielsen, President and CEO, EBTH.

Recently I had the chance to chat with Andy to find out more about the challenges of building a strong, Internet-based global company. He also shares insights for other entrepreneurs and retailers working to grow their businesses.

Coming To Terms With Millennials: Advice From The Experts

Millennials are mentioned in almost every article related to retail marketing these days. And Retail TouchPoints is no exception. We focused a special report on the topic back in February, titled: Can Retailers Keep Pace With Millennial Consumers?.

With that in mind, merchants must take the proper steps to attract more Millennial consumers and motivate Millennial employees to be brand advocates. 

How 3 Retailers Are Breaking Through The Mobile And Online Satisfaction Barrier

Debbie head shotEven though acronyms like IoT and AI may create excitement and draw crowds at trade show booths, the real thrill in retail is winning sales and delighting loyal customers by getting the basics right. Many of the conversations and demos at the recent IRCE event centered around those key business goals for retailers looking to improve the online and mobile experience.

With technology upgrades and advancements, retailers can more effectively satisfy consumers who are demanding ultimate satisfaction at every step of the shopper journey.

CMO Conversation: Moosejaw's Dan Pingree

0danpingreeFreely admitting a tendency toward "dumb" content and marketing, Moosejaw is an entertaining outdoor retailer that doesn't ever take itself too seriously.

Case in point, the example below: part of an image from a product page on the site.


Recently, I had a chance to chat with Moosejaw's Vice President of Marketing, Dan Pingree, to find out what makes him and Moosejaw tick:

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): How do you define your role as the head of marketing at Moosejaw?

Dan Pingree: I have been here four years and my role overseeing the marketing team covers every part of the customer acquisition and retention journey. It's quite a broad role at Moosejaw compared to other places I've worked. We have data analytics, email marketing, SEO and SEM within our team, consistent with other companies. But we also manage creative — graphic designers, etc. One of the things that allows us to bring the brand to life is our incredible graphic design assets. These are very talented people. We also house our photo and video team, and content publishing team — which in many other companies would be in IT. We combined these assets with product descriptions and video on every product page. We also manage all brick-and-mortar marketing; We have 10 stores comprising about 15% of our business; 85% is from online sales. We manage in-store events, signage, promotions, Madness events that happen regularly — planned and executed by our team in concert with store management. Social media is on our team also; and business development.

RTP: How well does Marketing collaborate with IT at Moosejaw?

Pingree: We literally sit right next to the IT team — we don't even have cubicles; we sit at desks next to each other, so IT is literally right at our side. I think that questions get answered very quickly. It can be a bit chaotic at times, but I would say our marketing team is a bit more technical than your average marketing team. We are one of IT's customers.

RTP: How has your education and past work experience influenced your job at Moosejaw?

Pingree: My work experience has been a combination of e-Commerce and product management. I graduated from Harvard Business School 15 years ago and worked at places like Microsoft and (now part of Walgreens). This is my first foray into the outdoor space, but digital marketing and e-Commerce have been part of my background over the last 15 years. Brick-and-mortar also is new to me, and I didn't have experience publishing a catalog or doing direct mail campaigns. But my approach to marketing is very analytical. While we have a healthy tension between pure creative and more analytical marketers, we all understand the importance of marrying the two and staying on brand with effective campaigns. The ethos is so wacky at times…we want the humor aspects to be so simple and so dumb that hopefully we don't have customers who "don't get it." We try to make it fun-loving and simple. Also, we don't set out to upset people, but sometimes being on brand means offending certain types who think we’re the dumbest retailer they’ve ever seen. To me that's an indication that we’re being true to our brand identity, and the vast majority of people really love it as something different and refreshing. Own it. Love it. Then it will resonate with people.

RTP: How are you using new technology solutions to improve business at Moosejaw?

Pingree: We try to use best-in-class solutions that will help us effectively target customers. We use AgilOne to help us understand the customer at the profile level, so we can serve them more relevant offers in outbound marketing and while they are on our site.  We've also found a lot of value doing A/B testing with MonetateSilverpop has been extremely effective, as well as the abandoned cart solution from SAP. And we're using Liveperson for online chat.  We've also recently implemented Amazon Pay and it's been performing way beyond our expectations so far.

RTP: Is there one technology strategy that stands out right now?

Pingree: The coolest technology we've implemented recently is around persona marketing, where we look at a range of things, from purchase history to demographics to brand or category preferences, which feed into a more personalized email or site experience.  While early in the process, the results so far have been extremely promising.

RTP: Are there any cutting-edge strategies you'd like to talk about?

Pingree: The Moosejaw Virtual Reality App is still in the early stages. It's free in the iTunes app store. It has commerce capabilities but it is not a commerce app. It's focused on six different outdoor activities, featuring videos shot using drones with very high-resolution equipment.  Using a cardboard virtual reality reader you get a very unique and up-close view of each activity. You can see all the products she is wearing while she is climbing the wall and there is a sponsor for each activity. The featured products are shown and you can click on the product image and buy through the app. There's also a gamification component. There are clues and riddles; if you answer correctly the fastest, you win all the gear within the activity. It's starting to gain momentum, but we are finding that there’s a whole lot of education involved as to how it works and why we're doing it. Next up? Ice climbing in Colorado and other winter sports. It's intended to be a 24/7/365 app that is constantly refreshed.


RTP: How do you build the business case for new technologies and business initiatives?

Pingree: This usually involves sitting down with the CIO and CEO, discussing priorities, and debating about costs vs. benefits for every potential project.  Effort and cost to complete the project obviously factors heavily into the cost part of the equation.  Sometimes the benefit isn’t known, so we’ll use A/B testing to better understand the potential.  While we don't have unlimited funds, I believe our internal process helps us address the high-impact projects early and learn along the way. 

RTP: What have been your proudest accomplishments since joining Moosejaw?

Pingree: When I joined my vision for marketing was to really transform online from transaction to experience. When 95% of your SKUs can be purchased from other retailers, you have to ask yourself: Why would someone shop at Moosejaw if they can buy it cheaper somewhere else? We are not going to win on price versus Amazon. In order to stay competitive and aggressive, we aim for experience. This cuts across key strategies we are working on:

Loyalty: While Moosejaw Rewards has been around for years, we have made changes that make it much easier to understand and use. Now it's a real differentiator in creating an experience. And it incents a faster return to purchase.

Mobile: About 25% of revenue is now from mobile phones and one third of traffic, which is up significantly over the last few years. It's now truly responsive; and the conversion rate is much closer to desktop than it used to be.

Content: This might seem like a 'duh,' but you need to figure out how to keep people on your site; give them fun engaging content so they can make an informed decision. We have worked to make sure our imagery is compelling: we've increased sizes and incorporated 360-degree spin on almost every product detail page. We have built out a significant trove of buying guides as well — all infused with the madness.

Personalization: The personas and the on-site experience are making inroads. While we haven’t cracked the [personalization] code, we are making steady progress.

RTP: Is there anyone you consider your personal and/or professional mentor or role model?

Pingree: I like to follow companies that are trying innovative things, even if they are not in retail. I love to stay on top of what’s going on at Amazon and Google. I think LinkedIn is a really innovative company. I like Bill Gates’ thoughts on solving really complicated problems in the developing world.  For example, he recently wrote a short article on the importance of chickens in developing countries, which shows that sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most impactful.  They don’t always have to use the most whiz bang technology.

RTP: What is your opinion on the future outlook for retail?

Pingree: The whole retail model really has taken its lumps in the past year — including layoffs, store closings, etc. Is the mall experience even going to be relevant as Millennials grow into adulthood and face paying down college debt and paying for healthcare? On top of that, mobile devices are smart and allow shoppers to get the lowest price immediately. We have to stay ahead of it and it has to be experiential. Only those with really unique experiences will survive. At Moosejaw, we’re working every single day to make sure that the customer experience is notable and unforgettable.

Top CRM Questions Asked By Marketers For Marketers

1CRMC logoLast week I attended the annual Customer Relationship Management Conference (CRMC) in Chicago. With approximately 700 retailers, solution providers and other industry experts in attendance, 2016 was the largest CRMC event to date.

Not surprisingly, much of the content at CRMC focuses on loyalty programs, customer analytics and overall CRM. I've found that some of the most compelling content during events comes out of the Q&A portion of the sessions. Following are some key insights from GameStop, Dunkin' Brands, Aveda, Etsy and more as they address questions asked by their fellow marketers.

Conquering The Last Mile: Cuts Costs, Delights Customers

1buildIn recent conversations with retailers and other industry executives, the topic of "last mile" has consistently risen to the surface as a new retail battleground — one where every retailer can compete against Amazon's fulfillment, delivery and returns offerings. It's literally the last chance to satisfy the customer and the last interaction that can turn a good experience into a bad one.

Now retailers are grappling with how to optimize the last mile. Do they handle it in-house? Use a third-party partner? Convert stores into DCs? The answer will be different for every company, depending on products, regions covered and service availability. For example, lots of new last mile services have popped up lately, from Curbside, Uber, eBay, Instacart, Postmates and deliv — even Google driverless trucks may be coming. But these services are only available in certain large cities across the country.

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