Don’t get us wrong: We’re thrilled with winning gold at this week’s Edison Awards.
Nothing wrong with being honored by experts in innovation and marketing for our Compass product. We could listen to people call us “the best of the best” all day long. We’re only human, after all.
— Edison Awards (@EdisonAwards) April 22, 2016
So, taking the gold medal Thursday in the Innovative Services category of the prestigious international award is sweet validation of a marketing and merchandising tool powered by machine learning and natural language processing.
We sort of knew it was good.
But what really makes our hearts soar is hearing from our customers, who have told us, and others, how Compass makes their jobs easier as they work to ensure that customers find relevant recommendations when they are searching the Web and on mobile platforms.
“What Compass did for us was actually provide us with this whole new world of data that we had never even thought to look at,” says Dalin Brinkman, site optimization and mobile manager at Lamps Plus. “The advantage with Compass, is it provides us with a very quick analysis. Some of this stuff I can find elsewhere, but with Compass, it’s right there. It’s right in front of me and very easy to use.”
Brinkman is among an army of experts in retail who are charged with figuring out what products need to be positioned where on digital sites. It is the job of these merchandisers and marketers to understand why some products perform exceptionally well — or why they don’t. These are the people who need to understand digital consumers’ intent: What do they want, what do they click on, what do they buy, where do they go when a site’s recommendations are not resonating?
It can be lonely work when you’re working in the dark. A recent Forrester survey, commissioned by BloomReach found that only 37 percent of digital merchandisers strongly agree that they have access to the customer data that they need to make the best decisions on products that they sell. Not only that, but only 36 percent of their marketing colleagues strongly agreed with the notion that merchandisers could provide them valuable insights for their work attracting new customers and encouraging repeat visits.
Compass provides a way for digital marketers and merchandisers to be on the same page — literally. They can look at the same data — in real time. The tool is like an ongoing focus group. It lets merchandisers and marketers hear the voice of the customer with each click and every action on the Web.
“Compass provides us this extra level because it actually gives us more of an idea of what a user’s intent is, what are they searching for on a page, what are they clicking on,” Brinkman says. “So because it’s easy for us to analyze, it’s a regular part of our conversation.”
It is an amazing feeling for a merchandiser to be able to see what is happening, what is going wrong, where his or her assumptions are off-base. And Compass gives them the information they need to take action.
“With Compass,” Brinkman says, “we have this ability to go in and find out why things are performing great or why things aren’t performing so well. Now, instead of having to guess, we have evidence to back up our ideas in ways that we can understand — ‘This is exactly the problem. Let’s figure out a solution that works well for that.’”
Of course, we’re pleased at BloomReach that Compass provides consumers with a better digital experience — and improves our customers’ bottom line. But our customers tell us it also makes their work lives better.
Brinkman roughly estimated that Compass allows him to do the analytic portion of his work in a quarter of the time it would take otherwise.
“The advantage of Compass is that it’s really easy and really simple to see things,” he says. “Now we know all this stuff, but if you took it away, we wouldn’t know it and we’d have to get it another way. So the amount of workload that would fall on my plate would probably quadruple overnight.”
Sara Rasumusen, Kohl’s director of digital marketing, told a crowd at the Shop.org Digital Summit in October that the speed with which Compass provides key insights is one of the things that sets it apart. During the 2014 holiday season, she said, her team relied on Compass to take action that made an immediate difference.
“In holiday ‘14, my team was able to take the signals that the customer gave us on Black Friday, in record time, to be able to analyze, report and share what the customer was doing and affect the rest of the season, through ship deadline.”
It’s the sort of change that can energize a team during one of the most stressful times of the year and carry over year-round.
“They have become a customer-centric organization,” Rasmusen, speaking at Shop.org, said of her team. “They’re not report-runners anymore. They have become customer-oriented, strategic thinkers. And it’s my job as their leader to maximize their impact across the organization by giving them the tools they need to do so.”
Compass not only helps our customers’ enterprises, but they tell us, it also can give them a boost along their career paths.
Roxanna Holley, a former merchandiser at grandinroad.com where she was the resident Compass power-user, experienced that sort of upside. “I am a better digital merchandiser because of Compass and the amazing Compass team who are so eager to create a product that empowers its users to understand and improve the consumer experience. Compass changes the way I do merchandising by connecting the dots between the customer and their intent. This tool truly brings the customer’s journey to life for the merchandiser.”
Naturally, the notion of being able to provide the tools to transform an operation’s mission makes those of us at BloomReach proud. It’s always nice to hear that Compass is getting the job done.
And it’s nice — we’re not going to lie — to come home with the gold every now and then.