Johnston & Murphy Tailors its Shopping Experience

Ecommerce Vice President Heather Marsh discusses the retailer's strategy for personalizing content across channels and devices.
Customer Experience

Johnston & Murphy, a high-end footwear and apparel retailer that was founded in 1850, prides itself on its long history of helping shoppers stay sharply dressed. However, today's consumers expect a lot more than tailored suits; they want brands to engage them on their terms within their channel of choice.

For Johnston and Murphy, this means customizing its content and products as it works towards "a true omnichannel experience," according to e-commerce Vice President Heather Marsh. 1to1 Media sat down with Marsh to hear about her strategy for helping Johnston & Murphy keep up with digital-first shoppers and her thoughts on Google's upcoming "buy" button.

1to1 Media: What's your customer engagement strategy? What do you want customers to come away with when they interact with your brand?

Heather Marsh: We want to make the experience relevant for them. They've given us a lot of their data like email addresses and phone numbers and more and we want to make sure we're using that information to provide them with a relevant experience. To do that, we're taking all the data we have in our Customer Portfolios' marketing databaseand matching it with a cookie from [marketing analytics and personalization platform provider] Monetate. When you click through an email on a desktop computer or mobile device, we are passing an ID or cookie through that URL and we use that to customize the content for you at that point in time.

How much traffic are you seeing through your mobile site versus desktop?
About 50 percent of our traffic is on mobile and the other 50 percent is desktop.

Where are you in terms of personalizing customer experiences across channels?
Right now we're just testing the data with Monetate's help and making sure it works before we can get to a true one-to-one experience. The most important thing is to provide the right contextual experience. That's challenging because maybe you purchased something as a gift or a one-time event.

We want to make sure the messaging and the sequence makes sense in what we're showing you and fits what interests you. We're dropping the customer between his devices and so it's important that we execute the same experience for him on a desktop as a mobile phone. Before we get there, we're building the foundation and testing general campaigns that are based on segments.

Can you give me an example of what a personalized message looks like?
There are three things that we're piloting right now: homepages that are personalized by gender and/or your past purchases, and special offers for loyalty members. We're also doing retargeted display ads, but we're not matching them with customers' offline purchase behaviors yet. Right now the ads are based on their browsing behaviors. One of our next steps is to integrate fully with offline data because we feel we're missing a big portion of the customer behavior by not doing that.

What are your thoughts on Google adding a buy button to its ads?
HM: It's still early but it seems that they're trying to own the customer relationship. It'll be interesting to see whether customers adopt it and if they want to check out through Google. I think that'll be the rub for the retailer if [customers] want to participate. We don't want Google to be between us and the customer; we want to have a direct relationship with the customer. It'll depend on how Google executes it, the kind of data we get, and whether the consumer adopts it. If the customer adopts [the button], we'll have to find a way to integrate it and make it work for us.

What are your thoughts on beacons?
HM: It goes back to consumer adoption. There are a lot of things you could do, but if consumers don't opt in or don't have the right app, or connect to the right Wi-Fi network, then it's not powerful. The name of the game is trying to figure out what kind of value we can offer to the consumer so they want to opt in.