DSW Extends Personalization Across Web, Mobile, And Physical Experiences

Since opening its first store in the early 1990s, footwear and accessories retailer DSW has displayed an ability to understand and evolve with the needs of its customers, maintaining a consistent and engaging brand experience that extends across physical stores, mobile, web, and email. DSW's highly personalized and omnichannel approach to shopping has been central to this — and the brand has been leveraging the power of personalization to connect with customers in a number of ways.

Making Connections Across Channels

According to a press release announcing its three-year strategic plan, in 2019, DSW set its sights on growing both its in-store offerings and digital demand. Putting this into practice requires digital and in-store strategies that improve cross-channel personalization.

DSW forges connections between its digital platforms with the help of recommendations to consumers that are based on social collaboration. Shoppers are inspired to browse similar styles and fashions that their fellow consumers love through "frequently bought together" and "people also viewed" suggestions. Product reviews that shoppers leave in these shared forums also inform DSW's digital marketplace.

Inspiring Loyalty and Making the Customer Feel Special

For DSW customers, the brand is all about the thrill of finding the perfect shoe at the perfect price. To keep those customers engaged, the brand launched a loyalty program — but that was 30 years ago. The program has since grown to more than 26 million members and remains central to the retailer's success. 29% of DSW's loyalty members have been in the program for ten years or more, and loyalty members represent 90% of the company's sales.

With its brand mission of "we inspire self-expression" in mind, starting in May 2018, DSW rolled out a new and improved loyalty program featuring free shipping and returns, faster rewards, a three-tiered reward structure, and greater digital integration.

Today, the DSW VIP program features an extensive personalization quiz, which makes it easy for customers to find the products they'll love. Members enjoy exclusive perks to redeem birthday offers, discounts, members-only events, and easy access to points for purchases, which customers carry with them throughout their relationship with the brand.

The integration of its loyalty program with the Google Cloud Platform has enabled DSW to market products in real time and provide the instant gratification that today's customers expect.

Increasing Engagement Through Mobile

The DSW mobile app is fully integrated with the brand's DSW VIP program, with tools to organize reward points, recommendations, and starred items so that shoppers can browse their in-app message center for product details and the location of the closest store where they can redeem their loyalty points.

Innovative features like the Clearance Calculator enable bargain-hungry shoppers to keep track of the latest deals and discounts. Since making improvements to its loyalty program and integrating these changes with mobile, DSW has recorded 1.6 million additional downloads of the app and a 6% increase in sales year over year.

Understanding the Consumer Across Touchpoints

Organizations have a wealth of consumer data, but there are challenges in making that information actionable and presenting it to customers in a relevant manner. DSW is facing the task of bringing together the right people, tools, and processes necessary for building personalization into the brand's everyday campaigns.

Erica Hermosilla, DSW's Senior Manager of CRM & Loyalty, explains the brand's approach to achieving a better understanding of the consumer across touchpoints and using that information to create more compelling and consistent customer experiences:

"We are a customer-centric organization, and we like to take a more holistic view of the shopper. We already have the transactional data about where and what she's buying, but now we're focusing on identifying and layering in her behavior across channels. For example, what is she browsing and what is she most interested in on our site? We're now taking that behavioral data and marrying it together with the transactional data. Our focus has been on continuing to build that holistic view of the customer at every step of her journey with us."

Putting Data to Work to Increase the Personalization Factor

A 2019 Omnichannel Report by SmarterHQ found that 90% of consumers regularly browse online and purchase in-store. With this kind of behavior, brands are under increasing pressure to enhance the in-store customer experience and maintain a consistent experience both offline and on.

At one level, this involves incorporating transactional store data into digital campaigns. With DSW, if you purchase something in-store, the brand can email you and ask you to review it online. In-store activity also reflects on the customer's profile of activities online. So, if you add a Kelly & Katie sandal to your cart on DSW.com, then purchase it in-store, DSW will take note of this and update your shopping cart accordingly, aligning store data with online data.

As a way of increasing personalization and customer engagement, DSW VIP now incorporates a shoe donation program, where customers can bring new or gently used shoes to any DSW store and donate them in exchange for loyalty points. The company sends out email notifications, letting customers know what has been collectively donated. In each email, DSW alerts the individual customer of how many shoes they donated specifically.

Evolving To Meet Changing Demands

Finding new ways to compete in the retail space and meet changing consumer demands requires DSW to set time aside to think about where retail and technology is heading, and what that means for the brand specifically.

Talking to consumers and leveraging customer insights are also critical activities for DSW. As Erica Hermosilla concludes: "Utilizing feedback is now a foundational element in many of our initiatives. We get their input on how we're doing and where we can do things better. If we come up with new and different ideas, we test them in front of customers and see what they think. As long as the initiatives are relevant to them, customers are going to give you some solid feedback that your teams can then turn into actionable and successful campaigns."

Personalization, loyalty programs, and the making of cross-channel connections are all set to be hot topics at Future Stores West 2020, which takes place June 16 - 18, 2020, at The Sheraton, Seattle.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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