Shortly after joining eBags, a luggage and travel e-Tailer, CEO Mike Edwards realized the brand had to stand out in a new way. The category was far too entrenched, and if eBags tried to compete solely on price, the retail giants and disruptors would surely eat its lunch.
Over the past year, Edwards has helped eBags mine consumer and business insights, create ideal “personas” of customers and invest in cutting-edge technologies that help the brand create more immersive and educational experiences. Due to its investment in cutting-edge tools and technologies, eBags has increased conversions by up to 20%.
“Usually, our customers engage with a personalized incentive or coupon, which drives them to the site and, ultimately, to make a purchase,” Edwards said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We realized that it was important to our customer and as a result, it should be a core part of our acquisition strategy rather than just lowering all our prices to compete against Amazon. Rewards, shipping and return policies all add into that final value equation for the customer.”
Edwards’ in-depth understanding and clarity around who the eBags customer is, and what her needs and preferences are, didn’t come straightaway. The e-Tailer mined an exorbitant amount of data, including sales results, marketing campaign reports and much more, to paint a more detailed picture of shoppers.
Mining and analyzing data helped eBags “get clarity on the customer and who was shopping with us,” Edwards said. “We were able to see what truly matters and prioritize what’s important. It enabled us to pivot our strategy and to focus on ways to differentiate.”
Since completing this enlightening exercise, eBags has refined and expanded its assortment by more than 40% to focus not just on travel necessities such as luggage, backpacks and carry-ons, but also supplementary business and travel accessories; electronics; sports and outdoor goods; and more. With these new product categories, eBags has also ramped up its brand voice, content marketing strategy, overall user experience and finally, its pricing and promotions strategies.
Pricing Still An Important Piece Of The eBags Puzzle
Although Edwards is a big proponent of providing an immersive brand experience, competitive pricing is still important to the eBags business.
“Pricing is always a critical part of our go-to-market strategy,” Edwards noted. “But it’s more about understanding what our discounting methods were getting us from an acquisition and retention standpoint. We had to take a hard look at what we were doing and determine whether it was really creating value for the customer, and if it was making sense from a profit standpoint.”
Using the Revionics Price Optimization Solution, eBags is able to algorithmically tune pricing every day “on thousands of SKUs without any manpower — and without the inconsistency of human decision-making,” said Jonathan Fox, Director of Pricing at eBags. He added that the Revionics pricing engine allows the team to run different pricing strategies by product type, and even to take price elasticity, market share, gross margin and sales into account to guide price changes and achieve different outcomes.
Like everything else in the eBags business, pricing and promotions strategies are a constant work in progress. Fox describes the process as “an ongoing and fluid exercise in testing, learning and redeploying our demand-driving promotional tactics. Our efforts are zeroed in on how we allocate our discount dollars — invest more where we gain lift and positively impact customer lifetime value, and divest where we don’t.”
Building An Innovative Technology Ecosystem
In addition to perfecting eBags’ pricing and promotions strategy, Edwards and his team are focused on creating more innovative customer experiences based on what they want and expect from the brand.
“The fact is we’re not Walmart, Amazon or Target — we’re a niche specialty retailer,” Edwards stated. “And what consumers expect from specialty retailers is incredible product expertise—whether it’s in the form of content, measurement details, photography or user reviews — and great interactions with the brand.”
To pique shopper interest, eBags gravitates to low cost, high-impact tactics, such as user-generated content and organic social engagement. The e-Tailer also is focused on constantly improving its mobile app and onsite browsing and search experiences.
“We’ve increased conversions between 15% and 20% and that has largely been due to the technology we’ve implemented over the past year,” Edwards said. “Because we’re small, we can move within weeks or months.” For example, he revealed that eBags decided to implement Apple Pay a few months ago and will be live with it the week before Thanksgiving.
In the last year alone, eBags has tested dozens of technologies and implemented eight — most of which focus on mobile optimization, artificial intelligence and user-generated content.
Leading up to the holiday season, eBags is focused on finding as many new ways to improve the brand and shopping experience as possible. The company will A/B test up to 50 different ideas through November to decide which strategies to move forward with for the holiday season.
“We always push it to the limit and this year is no different,” Edwards teased. “We’re trying to determine how many UX experiences we can improve until we shut down coding for the holidays.”