NEW YORK – At the Neiman Marcus Group, “The next big frontier is personalization.”
That was Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Group, discussing how the luxury retailer is evolving its digital experiences during a Fashion Group International panel discussion Thursday on how the retail landscape is changing.
Katz said the major objective at Neiman’s is “taking to the digital world that highly personal, deep relationship building” at Neiman’s stores.
“When a customer visits our site, we want them to immediately feel that we know her,” she said.
Katz claimed that Neiman’s operates the world’s largest luxury e-commerce business. Neiman’s Web sites include neimanmarcus.com, bergdorfgoodman.com, Lastcall.com, Horchow.com, Cusp.com and Mytheresa.com.
“The customer is in the center of everything we do,” Katz said. “Our goal is to be as seamless as possible for every customer experience. We started our omnichannel journey five years ago. Omnichannel is how we do business. It’s no longer a strategy.”
On the personalization front, neimanmarcus.com last year added myNM, an automated feature discreetly located on the top-left corner of the homepage. It’s geared to replicate online to some degree how consumers might shop the physical store. Essentially, myNM edits the site down based on data accumulated from past shopping and browsing online. Widgets, like “new since your last visit” or “just for you,” help direct the online experience, making it quick and efficient. MyNM has the suggested selling feature that some other Web sites offer, where products pop up — presumably ones customers would be interested in due to past purchases — and reveals top pins from neimanmarcus.com and what items are trending best on the Web site. It also has look books from preferred designers and editorial features.
At Neiman Marcus headquarters in Dallas, there’s an “iLab” where the company is tackling initiatives in personalization, as well as wearable tech, information systems and technology on the selling floors and in the dressing rooms, among other concepts.
Regarding what’s next on the personalization front, “we have a long list of things in terms of personalization,” Katz told WWD.
Also on the FGI panel was April Uchitel, chief brand officer of Spring, an online marketplace for brands targeting 25- to 35-year-olds, and Steve Bock, ceo of Shinola. Paul Charron, former chairman and ceo of Liz Claiborne, moderated the discussion.
“It’s about the way we use data to make Spring feel personal,” Uchitol told WWD. Spring uses the data to get personal, Uchitol explained, by spotlighting shoppers when they get on the site initially with the brands they favor the most. Spring also provides product recommendations based on purchasing data or product views, as well as alerts to when brands go on sale, are getting out of stock, or about new brands that join the marketplace. Spring is only nine months old but has 760 brands on board. However, Uchitol said the count could change because on June 8 Spring is requiring that all of the brands provide free shipping. Spring is encouraging free shipping by reducing its fees.
Utilizing “big data” drives personalization features on Web sites, though as Charron noted after the discussion, “Deep dives into big data can end up with people drowning. There’s too much stuff. It’s like drinking from a fire hose. You have to have guard rails. Ceo’s and cmo’s have to build parameters for what they are looking for.”
Noting that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has a minority investment in Spring, Charron said, “We are seeing big companies making investments in the birthing of new ideas. It gives them a foot into a more contemporary space and will make brands more relevant to Millennials.”
Bock spotlighted the diversity of Shinola’s offering from watches to bicycles, shoe polish and journals. “Audio is just around the corner,” he said. Shinola, he said, creates a “compelling story” by building factories and creating jobs in the U.S. as well as an “appeal beyond the products.”
Robin Lewis, ceo of The Robin Report, who introduced the panel, said in order for retailers to win in the 21st century, they must provide “an incredibly compelling experience, a seamlessly integrated omnichannel distribution platform, and quick and easy access” for consumers and retailers to connect.