Typically, retailers are hesitant to try the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” strategy, but for Alice + Olivia, experimentation is at the core of unveiling best practices on e-commerce.
When Marianna Satanas, vice president of e-commerce at Alice + Olivia, joined the company four months ago, she said there were nearly 30 separate experiments being conducted on the website, testing digital elements like imagery and product labeling. Her goal was to streamline these efforts with a focus on personalization tailored to consumer demographic and market, while improving UX design and overall merchandising. While this might seem lofty, Satanas was quick to emphasize that Alice + Olivia’s digital tests are “not tech for tech’s sake,” while speaking at an event in New York on Wednesday.
Her primary challenge is understanding how to connect with a vast range of consumers spanning ages 18 to 65, in both the U.S. and international markets. Improving the Alice + Olivia homepage has been a key priority for Satanas, with a focus on how product discovery is impacted by editorial photography. The company is now conducting its second test on clicks and conversion rates, based on showing products “on body” (on models) versus “flat” (shown as is).
Flat vs. on-body imagery on the Alice + Olivia website
At the moment, the results remain fairly inconclusive, a finding other brand executives at the event echoed. While a representative for Tory Burch said on-body presentation performs better for the brand, another from Theory said the company recently switched to a flat presentation to maintain focus on the garments. “What I’ve recently been learning is there’s a lot of distraction that comes from a model image. Maybe the customer doesn’t identify with the model, or the look has too many pieces to it. The flat allows a customer to focus on the item they’re looking at,” the Theory representative said.
Satanas has also prioritized improvements on the mobile site, and said having a strong mobile experience should be a precursor to enhancing desktop efforts. Her emphasis on mobile has also led to testing social media strategies designed to engage with top consumers, or VIPs, and attract new shoppers. One recent initiative included opening a private Instagram account for top shoppers to provide sneak peeks and early access to new products.
While conversions from this experiment were low, she said the company has found success in bringing in new consumers on Facebook. In a recent push to attract new shoppers on the social network, Alice + Olivia received an uptick of 200 e-commerce orders, 40 percent of which were from new customers, as well as 500 new email signups during a six-week period.
Ultimately she said these tests demonstrate Alice + Olivia is not shy when it comes to determining new ways to work with consumers.“Personalization can be a pain, but if you keep it really simple and relevant to your customers, it can be much easier to implement than you think,” she said.