Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Alex and Ani exec: Personalization extends across channels for retargeting halo effect

SAN ANTONIO, TX – An Alex and Ani executive at eTail West 2014 said that the company leverages data from all of its channels to create personalized, customized experiences for consumers.

During the “Making Your Web Experience More Relevant and Targeted Using Personalization Tools” session, executives from Compare Metrics,, Alex and Ani and Storkie discussed how they obtain data ad metrics to create personalization across platforms and channels. The panel was moderated by Josh McFarland, CEO/co-founder of TellApart, Burlingame, CA.

“Our approach to personalization goes well beyond the on-site experience,” said Ryan Bonifacino, vice president of digital strategy at Alex and Ani, New York. “It goes on to Facebook, Twitter, top-of-funnel display, targeting and so on.

“We’re generating customers from all sorts of areas,” he said. “We partner with the MLB, the Olympics, every college sorority. So how can we take that data and not only leverage it to power on-site personalization experiences, but how do we create a halo effect with our retargeting and how do we capture information at the awareness level.”

Cross-channel personalization
The panel covered personalization tactics for all mediums, including mobile and social.

One of the bigger issues that came up was tying these experiences together for consistency.

“That’s a real challenge. If they log in, that’s gold,” said TJ Gentle, president/CEO of, Chattanooga, Tennessee. “The challenge is when you’re pushing folks in and out of your site, at least for us, one of the challenges was on multiple devices, force feeding the cookie on another device, and if you have a few hundred profiles that’s one thing and when you start talking about tens of thousands you have to talk about pushing the token through and creating an anonymous profile experience.

“It is a challenge, but it’s one of those that with enough money and time you can solve it, and if you don’t solve it you’re missing so much opportunity because the upside of conversion rates from creating that customized experience are so high it moves it up in priority,” he said.

When a consumer visits a Web site on desktop and mobile, both should be equally personalized and targeted, but this can be challenging for retailers.

One of the ways that Alex and Ani tracks consumers across devices is by placing a pixel in ereceipts.

David Gudal, CMO of Storkie, Plantation, FL, also gave an example of how his company personalizes the experience for its consumers.

If a customer created a card with Storkie already, the company can leverage that information to create a sample Christmas card in advance of the holiday to try to increase sales as well as to make it easier for the consumer.

“As the customer is proceeding forward in the process, we can remove friction points,” he said.

Holistic experience
The panelists also spoke about making the online experience feel like a retailer’s brick-and-mortar experience.

In the same way that if a consumer walks into a store and a sales associate offers advice or help, a desktop and mobile site should offer similar guidance to consumers.

“In the same way we think of explicit data for getting profiles about consumers, yes a sales person might size someone up, but they’re going to start with a question,” said Garrett Eastham, founder/CEO of Compare Metrics, Austin, TX. “What are you here to solve. They’re trying to think more holistically.

“We found that when you ask that preference from a consumer and you carry across the site between sessions you’re showing them here’s why we’re recommending this, they trust your site more,” he said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York