IBM is touting a year-long digital revamp of Signet Jewelers' ecommerce strategy and digital marketing design. IBM announced that the initiative led to a 49 percent increase in online sales during the 2012 holiday season, compared to the same period in 2011.
Signet , doing business in the US and UK under Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, worked with IBM Global Business Services and its digital consulting and design practice, IBM Interactive, to develop a unified strategy and a more consistent, branded and personalized customer experience for shoppers, whether in physical stores, online or via mobile.
In fact, a key component of the engagement was the launch of new mobile sites that let customers shop and buy products via mobile devices. A mobile app was created for iOS and Android devices, while catalogs were added to the Google Catalogs app. The mobile sites and apps include store finders and account access.
"In-store research showed that the sales process could be fairly complicated. Shopping for jewelry is more tactile and visual, so we wanted to make sure that the visual display of items on the home page was similar to the display of something in the physical store," said Paul Papas, smarter commerce global leader, IBM Global Business Services. One tactic to accomplish this was creating rollover previews, along with the comparison functions.
In addition, the new sites offer improved search and product comparison for online and mobile shoppers, tracking of recently viewed items, and instant live chat with customer service reps.
Signet U.S. introduced new online credit features, including letting new credit customers access payment information, and offering existing customers the ability to review available credit balances and account details within the Kay and Jared sites.
The credit functionally was very important, Papas said, because it gave shoppers the ability to see their current balances and figure out whether a contemplated purchase would be affordable.
Signet worked with IBM to launch a social media presence for Kay and Jared, engaging fans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. IBM recommended a multi-disciplinary social media governance model, adding positions for a community manager and a social media monitor, responsible for content, engagement and tracking sentiment.
The digital channel continues to increase in importance for retailers, with sales this holiday season outpacing total retail growth. According to the National Retail Federation, non-store retailers’ sales increased 0.5 percent in December 2012 and increased 9.6 percent unadjusted year over year. While total 2012 holiday retail sales increased 3.0 percent, non-store holiday sales grew 11.1 percent.
Cyber Monday 2012 was the biggest shopping day in history for global retailers, IBM said, with online sales growing 30.3 percent on that day, and mobile shopping up 70 percent compared to 2011.
With the growing importance of digital shopping, outstanding functionality is critical for ecommerce sites, according to Papas, whether online or mobile. "If they can't get from you what they want when they want it and how they want it, they just have to move their index finger one eighth of an inch," he said.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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