Cafe Britt Whips Up a Personalized E-commerce Experience

The coffee specialist boosts its conversion rate by 18% with personalized recommendations and more.

In the crowded e-commerce space, generic online experiences no longer suffice. Retailers must personalize customers' experiences to meet their individualized needs and gain a competitive edge.

Coffee specialist Cafe Britt is one such retailer that wanted to better serve its customers by bringing the same level of personalization from its nearly 100 stores to its e-commerce site. Headquartered in Costa Rica, Cafe Britt produces gourmet coffee and chocolate which it sells from its shops at numerous airports worldwide.

The company relies on these brick-and-mortar stores as opportunities to form one-to-one relationships with customers. There, sales associates can quickly assess their customers' preferences and steer them towards the right merchandise.

Like visitors to its airport stores, Cafe Britt's website visitors also need help finding the right product, notes Sourav Sharma, head of e-commerce and online marketing at the company. "We saw people searching for products on our site and sometimes they knew what they wanted, while others wanted to see what's available," Sharma says. "We needed a way to quickly recommend the right product to every visitor without them having to click through numerous pages."

In the summer of 2014, Cafe Britt began working with predictive analytics and personalization vendor Reflektion on matching merchandise with a shopper's individual preferences. Starting with location-based information, Cafe Britt displays customized landing pages for each visitor. Site search results also become more personalized as customers spend more time on the site.

For example, a first-time visitor will see merchandise that is popular with other shoppers from the same region. As the shopper continues to browse the site, such as by searching for a medium roast coffee, he or she will find other medium roast coffees as well as merchandise like chocolates that complement the coffee. And returning visitors will see the items they frequently purchase on the first webpage or otherwise prominently displayed, making them easier to find.

For both new and returning visitors, this recommendation feature allows customers to find the items that interest them in addition to discovering new ones. "As [customers] start browsing, we learn fast and build profiles about their interests and behaviors and start recommending products based on that," Sharma explains. These efforts have translated into deeper engagement and higher conversion rates for Cafe Britt. After integrating Reflektion's platform, Cafe Britt saw an 18 percent boost in its conversion rate "almost immediately," Sharma says. The retailer also saw the average order value increase by more than 20 percent.

Cafe Britt's next step is to launch a loyalty program that will allow customers to earn points that they can apply to discounts in its stores or on its website. Slated to be launched in Q4 2016, the loyalty program is the "missing piece" in the customer experience, Sharma notes. "When we first built our website, we didn't connect it to our stores," he explains, "And so our loyalty program will allow us to connect those experiences and give us a unified view of the customer journey our goal is to give our customers what they're looking for and more."