How does a company get a 27-year-old interested in trendy Bean Boots to purchase from other areas of its catalog? The short answer: some really fancy math.
When we first explain to people what Coherent Path does, we are often met with the reply, “So you do email personalization?” No, we are not the personalization that is buried at the bottom of the email and looks like the products you just bought or just looked at. We deliver that “picked just for you, how did you know I would love this?” feeling that a real personal shopper can achieve.
We take a unique approach to email by applying hyperbolic geometry (or what we sometimes refer to as “really fancy math”) to build a model for each customer’s unique journey, taking into account how their tastes and preferences evolve over time. Hyperbolic geometry, in layman’s terms, is a global orientation to a product and transactional space which gives you the ability to stand on any given product and to see in which direction and how far away all the other products are. Once you have this geometry you can place customers within it and measure their movement through the space.
As a retailer, there may be certain parts of your product catalog that you want to expose to a new audience, however, it’s not effective to simply put that product in front of the audience if they are trending in another direction. It would be like trying to get your children to enjoy nature documentaries simply by making the switch from Sponge Bob to National Geographic. The way hyperbolic geometry might attack this problem would be to suggest cartoons “near” Sponge Bob that start to introduce animals and nature (e.g. Paw Patrol), gradually moving them in the direction of a National Geographic documentary.
The same applies in retail. By using hyperbolic geometry to model the customer journey, we can plan your email calendar so you put products in front of the right audiences today to drive near-term sales, while informing and introducing them to different parts of your product catalog tomorrow.
Selecting the right themes
A major part of the equation is the concept of theme selection (a theme is simply a chunk of the product catalog). For an office supply retailer, a theme could be ink and toner or break room supplies. Rather than pushing a particular SKU, such as Green Mountain K-cups, themes support similar products, such as sugar packets, cream and Donut Shop brand K-cups. This enables product discovery at the theme level – products that customers might like in your catalog, but haven’t purchased yet. In the hyperbolic model, these products are “near” one another.
By using hyperbolic geometry and advanced data science, we can determine how far away a particular product is from a related product in your portfolio and map out the best path between a product a customer has purchased and the new product you want to expose them to (e.g. Bean Boots to fleece jackets). With the established map, it’s possible to make offers that modify or take advantage of a customer’s evolving comfort zone by identifying in which direction (and the speed with which) a customer’s tastes are changing.
Once we suggest themes for each of our retail clients, we then assign the audience that is most relevant for each theme and conduct test sends to see which themes and creative are resonating with the audience the most.
More than big data analytics
Statistical tools and algorithms can be a valuable addition to understanding customer behavior, but they are no substitute for modeling the dynamics of actual customer behavior. While our approach leverages big data and predictive analytics to develop a deeper understanding of shoppers and their unique journeys, the “fancy math” is really our secret sauce. This enables us to align a retailer’s outreach and promotional efforts with the customer today, while inspiring loyalty and lifetime customer value.
Our approach to understanding the dynamics of products and transactional spaces is unique to the retail industry, and our foundation in mathematics and data science enables retailers to deliver personalized emails to each customer within the context of their entire journey. This leads to more engaged, loyal and profitable shoppers over the lifespan of their relationship with your brand – customers who feel they are getting the personal shopper experience every time they receive your emails.
Also published on Medium.