The subscription space is crowded, and fashion and beauty brands are being forced to find ways to cut through the noise.
Some are offering more styles and others are promising expedited shipping, but it really comes down to what’s in the box. Proving they “get” a customer’s style by consistently filling it with looks they love is key to owning their membership dollars. In short, the company that personalizes best will win the day.
The team behind jewelry subscription box company Rocksbox knows that well. It sends three pieces of jewelry — by brands including Kendra Scott, House of Harlow 1960 and Gorjana — to members at a time, which they can wear for as long as they want, before trading them out for new styles or purchasing them. While shoppers can “wish list” pieces they like, they don’t hand-select what arrives on their doorstep. Through 200 customer touch points, Rocksbox looks to ensure each customer is happy with their box. Here’s how they do it.
Know who you’re talking to
Erin Miller, vp of marketing, said catering communication to specific audience groups is Step 1. The company currently speaks to four main groups: Customers who are actively paying for the service, one-time customers who have unsubscribed, people who have put their membership on hold; and inactive customers (they’ve supplied an email and a password, and taken the company’s style survey, but they haven’t finish the registration process). There are custom groups within each — for instance, the active segment includes new members, who typically like more communication.
Rocksbox has designed unique experiences for each group on email and SMS, and customers can select method of communication.
“Messaging is meant to drive engagement, and it focuses on what we want each customer to do,” said Miller.
Moving forward, she has plans for more advanced segmentation of customers to enable a more customized experience. “We want to give our longtime customers more of a VIP experience,” she said. “And we’ve started working with influencers, who are younger than our core customer — we want to give them an experience catered to them.”
Lead with a No. 1 goal in mind
Rocksbox has found that customers are most satisfied when items from their wish lists are among the three items they receive. If one item is included, their level of satisfaction is 52 percent higher than if not. If three items are included, they’re 118 percent happier.
So, for the last eight months, Miller and her team have updated their focus to center on getting wish-listed items in customers’ boxes as often as possible. Nudging customers to “wish-list” items by choosing styles they like is key — so they’re driving customers to the website, then showing her a jewelry selection on the homepage that’s catered to her preferences. For new members, that’s based on the style profile they filled out when signing up for Rocksbox — for others, feedback from past orders is largely considered.
“Seventy percent of our members leave feedback on every set they receive,” said Miller, noting they are prompted with an email or text message.
A feedback prompt in a Rocksbox email
Balance AI with human touch
AI plays a large role in determining what styles go into a customer’s box, but it’s not everything. “We need to maximize the huge inventory we have to get the right pieces to the people who want them most,” said Miller. “AI powers that tool, and that assists our stylists.”
An “allocation engine” chooses one to two pieces per box, and then the stylist comes in “to add that personalized touch,” Miller said. “They make sure included pieces are cohesive, are they leave a personalized note, providing the all-important human component.”
Miller noted the importance of customer feedback in informing the AI engine, comparing Rocksbox’s practices to the way Netflix and Spotify ask users to like or dislike selections.
Know it’s not a numbers game
When marketing manager Lindsay Kaplan was hired a year ago, one of the first things she did was create a “welcome series,” breaking down the details of the subscription program to new members.
“It used to be: ‘Yay! Welcome to Rocksbox!’ in one long, complicated email that listed all customers should know,” she said. “I turned that email into 12 emails, all different and easy to digest.”
She said a number of the emails deploy in the time companies usually “leave customers high and dry”: between the time they make and receive an online purchase.
“In between, we’re educating them on what they need to know,” she said, adding that not everybody receives all emails. “If they expressed they like rings, for instance, we’ll send them an email about how to figure out their ring size, so they’re set for their next box.”
An email in Rocksbox’s “welcome series”
The email with the highest open rate in that time frame is one messaging a $5 discount for anyone who adds 30 items to their online wish list: 85 percent of new members open it.
“It’s not a numbers game,” she said, when asked how many emails is too many. “It’s more about the timing of the message. If it’s the right time, it will always be relevant.”
What other brands are saying
Kamini Rangappan Lane, CMO of Tradesy:
“Meaningful personalization is about more than adding personal elements to communications based on what customers are telling you; its about making their experience with your brand and products richer, more relevant and more valuable, based on what they are showing you in their behavior.”
Joanna Griffiths, founder & CEO of Knix:
“We launched with a customer-centric approach from Day 1, listening to our customers and distilling feedback in all we do. It’s important that women feel they are more than just a customer. Everyone who buys from us becomes a part of the DNA, shaping the next evolution of our product and brand campaigns.”
Related reads on Glossy
Report: Retailers are missing the mark on personalized e-commerce experiences
“Businesses that embrace personalization have a differentiated proposition that could lead to sustainable growth.”
Blockchain, Internet of Things and AI: What the newest luxury startup accelerators are investing in
“There’s an overloading amount of data that brands don’t know how to make sense of, and some luxury companies are brands that don’t even have full e-commerce stores. They need outside help.”
How the LVMH-backed aggregator Lyst does business
“The concept behind Lyst is you can find whatever you’re searching for. That means we have to make sure data informs the experience.”