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Episode 115
July 5, 2019

Overcoming Choice Paralysis

Our 2019 theme of clienteling for digital commerce continues with an interview with Claudine Bianchi, CMO at Zoovu, a Guided Commerce service which connects customer needs to products and services from retail brands. Listen now!

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Our 2019 theme of clienteling for digital commerce continues with an interview with Claudine Bianchi, CMO at Zoovu, a Guided Commerce service which connects customer needs to products and services from retail brands. Listen now!

Show Notes:

Main Takeaways:

  • Future Commerce has declared 2019 the year of "clienteling" and personalized experiences for consumers.
  • Zoovu is helping (mostly) B2C companies create curated product search selections for their customers.
  • Amazon brands that work with Zoovu are seeing incredible returns at 3X pre-Zoovu sales.
  • The future of retail and commerce is a world in which the ability to hyper-personalize experiences for customers is accessible to business worldwide.

Zoovu is Bringing The Sales Associate Experience Online:

  • Claudine Bianchi, CMO at zoovu, is on the podcast today, explaining how zoovu helps connect customer needs to actual products.
  • Zoovu is an AI-conversational marketing platform that can replicate the in-store sales associate experience for online shopping experiences.
  • So what is Zoovu's mission, and how can it help retailers and brands connect with their customers?
  • Well, according to Claudine, Zoovu is working to solve "choice paralysis" for the customers of B2C brands and retailers.
  • For example, one brand that Zoovu works with is Clairol, a haircare brand, and through using Zoovu, Clairol is to able to help customers choose the hair care product that is best for their individual hair type.

Data-Driven Personas: Separating The Experts & Beginners:

  • "What Zoovu does is through a series of questions it narrows down choices and actually connects you with the products that are most likely to satisfy your requirements."
  • One of the coolest parts of Zoovu is that the platform uses anonymous data to craft personas and then curates products for customers based on answers to questions asked.
  • Claudine says that cameras are a great example of this, because even though there may be aspiring photographers and expert level photographers shopping for cameras, they all have the same goal, to take great photographs.
  • So as opposed to every-camera-ever Zoovu will make targeted suggestions that will fit the specifications the user is looking for.
  • Phillip says that five years ago, a lot of marketers were turning to more sophisticated platforms because they were tired of overly broad email campaigns.
  • "It's like going into the store, without having to go into the store."

Do You Even Zoovu: ROI Metrics for Brands:

  • Phillip asks Claudine what she thinks the next step of the shopping experience is, and what are the metrics that brands that are listed on Amazon that work with Zoovu use to determine ROI?
  • Claudine says that Zoovu works with over 80 brands on Amazon and that those brands are seeing 3x the sales pre-Zoovu, which is incredible.
  • Some of those brands, according to Claudine, are seeing conversion rates of 107%, because what brands can accomplish when they have the correct data is incredible.
  • "Some of the key metrics are conversion rates, increasing sales, decreasing return rates, increase in average order value up upwards of 70-80%.

Everyone's Welcome to Zoovu With Zoovu:

  • So Zoovu integrates with a multitude of platforms including Magento, Shopify, SalesForce, Adobe, and many others.
  • Claudine also explains the actual AI (machine learning) powering Zoovu: "We've been looking at e-commerce and sales patterns for the past ten years, and we've been able to develop the types of algorithms that will help determine the questions we ask next."
  • So where can retailers and brands looking to Zoovu go to find out more?
  • Claudine says that the Zoovu website is a great place to find out more, as there are live samples to demonstrate the power of the platform, a pretty robust blog, and plenty of ways to contact the Zoovu team.

Claudine's predictions for the next five years of retail and commerce:

"We're going to see a lot more adoption of technology into the retail and buying experience everything from AR to promote our products and to support service those products. The online experience is going to get a lot more personalized and targeted. So that consumers will see products they want to want to see, and for how much they want to pay. We're going to see this vast customization on the global level where it's not just the major players. Anyone with a website will be able to reach people who they never were able to reach before. And consumers will have unprecedented access to products that they didn't know existed".

As always: we want to hear from our listeners! Do you currently use Zoovu? How are you engaging with your customers? Are you asking the right questions and using that data to power your customer experience?

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Download MP3 (24.9 MB)

Phillip: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Future commerce the podcast about cutting edge a next generation commerce. I'm Phillip and we have a special guest today.

Phillip: [00:00:06] But before we get into the show, and I introduce her... I'm very excited about today's show. We just want to remind you we'll be at IRCE in just a week or so, and we would love to meet you there we're gonna do a special live podcast event at the Vertex tax booth, so make sure that you check out more information and hit us up at And remember to Like and Subscribe so you never miss an episode of Future Commerce and give us five stars anywhere where podcast are found... Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify and all the rest. So with that out of the way I want to introduce you to someone who I just recently met, but I've been a big fan of the service and you've heard about it on the show for the last few months as we've been talking about our 2019 sort of story that we've been bringing about which is modern clienteling. And so I'd like to introduce you today to the Chief Marketing Officer of zoovu, Claudine Bianchi. Welcome to the show.

Claudine: [00:01:01] Thank you so much, Phillip. I'm really looking forward to our conversation.

Phillip: [00:01:05] Yeah same here. And you know just so everybody knows and is at rest. zoovu is not a sponsor of the show. We just happen to be big fans because you're doing something that I feel like nobody is doing right now. You are leading the market on a trend for... What I see a lot of direct-to-consumer and need-to-see companies doing.

Phillip: [00:01:28] Could you tell us a little bit about what zoovu is and what you know what it is that you do in the marketplace that makes you different?

Claudine: [00:01:34] Sure, so zoovu is an AI driven conversational marketing platform, and what we solve is choice paralysis.

Claudine: [00:01:48] What I mean by choice paralysis is, I don't know if you bought a laptop lately, but if you go online and you start searching for a laptop you can get very confused very quickly because there're so many different options. And to the layperson they might not know how much CPU power they need or how much memory they need because they're not used to buying that way. They're used to I need a computer for...

Claudine: [00:02:18] Playing games or to connect with my family or just play on Facebook all day, right? So what zoovu is actually doing through a series of questions we can help narrow down choices for you, and actually connect you with the products that are most likely going to satisfy your requirements.

Phillip: [00:02:40] So when you say conversational there's there's a conversation or there's there's some sort of a a narrowing down or some sort of a UI that gets it engages that conversation. But it's not like a chat bot, right? Tell me a little bit about what that you know user experience is like.

Claudine: [00:02:59] Yeah. So just as you just asked me a question, right, to start the conversation. That's exactly what zoovu does with its online customers. Right.

Claudine: [00:03:09] So it's asking a series of questions to figure out what the is looking for you know. Is it, you know, going back to to the laptop... Is it for home use or office use? Is it for playing games? Is it for writing

Claudine: [00:03:23] email? Is it for doing you know complicated CAD diagrams or something really technical. And we walk you through that process, so that we can then recommend to you what we think might be the best product or products to meet your needs. But instead of looking at 100 different products we're really whittling down your choices to those products that you probably have the highest propensity to want to buy.

Claudine: [00:03:50] And that eliminates a lot of what we call choice paralysis which is basically way too many choices way too much technical jargon to explain those choices and really get it down to a much more human type of interaction. Almost bringing the in-store experience you've had in the past with your sales person into a digital experience.

Phillip: [00:04:14] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:04:14] And so that's precisely what we've been talking about since January at NRF when we decided, you know, it's it's a year like a recurring theme this year it just sounds like clienteling is is what's coming front and center especially in B2C in B2C selling channels.

Phillip: [00:04:35] So who are your customers?  Are they are they primarily B2C businesses or are they branded manufacturers? Tell me a little bit about your customer.

Claudine: [00:04:44] Yeah. We've had the biggest success working with B2C brands and retailers.

Claudine: [00:04:51] And in fact we just won a Glossy Award for Best Digital e-Commerce Experience the other night. But when you look at, so for example, beauty in cosmetic, cosmetics... We work with about 50 brands that in that space all using us because there's so many different choices that you have to be able to make. Let's take hair coloring.

Claudine: [00:05:16] I didn't realize how complex it was to find the right hair color for your type of hair. And we actually worked with a company called Clairol, which is a division of Coty, in designing their hair color quiz that walks the consumer through whether they have dry hair but they're looking for a blonde... Is it a golden blonde?

Claudine: [00:05:41] Is it ashy blonde?

Claudine: [00:05:44] And it actually just help that consumer you know make the right choice for for his or her hair. And what I love about it is it doesn't get much more technical so I don't have to be like a hair color specialist to understand what they're asking me. Right. Right. Exactly.

Claudine: [00:06:03] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:04] Yeah I was gonna say and what's I think really interesting about the your your your approach to selling in what I might describe as guided selling or guiding commerce, that experience could be adapted to style to more professional, you know more professional and more adept audience. So somebody that does care you know about certain, you know... Does this have parabens? or Does it like.. You might be able to sell to them specifically based on persona and sort of their, you know, their familiarity with the product. Because a power user, I think like in electronics especially like cameras, you have you have very you have two extremes of a market that you have to adapt to, and there is no one size fits all e-Commerce experience. I think that's what makes you guys a little different.

Claudine: [00:06:57] Yeah what we're actually doing, Phillip, is that every time someone goes through one of our conversations we're actually capturing the information about them, totally anonymously so we're not violating anything, but we can tell that a certain type of persona is going to be less technically astute or less feature oriented and jargon... it might be more of a beginner, right? Whereas we can then adjust the questions that we're sending to reflect the experience of that user. So cameras is a great example. And you know there are all different levels of photographers out there some that are beginning some that are very very advanced, but they're all looking

Claudine: [00:07:39] for better ways to take better pictures, and what we do is we help identify what kind of consumer you're actually relating to and we can tell that by the types of questions and answers they give to us. We collect all that information in the background so that you can get even better at positioning certain products for certain personas.

Claudine: [00:08:02] And that really helps with you know helping to better understand consumers which is what marketers really want to understand. We want to understand what consumers buy what how can we make them happy or happily speed up the velocity of the sale. And that's exactly the type of results we're seeing with our clients.

Phillip: [00:08:23] It's so funny that you say it that way because five years ago I think a lot of people were turning to more... More marketers were turning to more sophisticated email marketing and generalized marketing platforms because they were tired of spray and pray, right?

Phillip: [00:08:41] This idea that you create a singular newsletter that, or a singular e-mail that targets too broad of an audience that not everybody can really connect with deeply or directly. And what we started to see was marketers have a best return on their email investment when they're selling to segments and selling to personas directly based on how know the customer. But for whatever reason we never connected that directly to web sites. We still have a very generalized e-Commerce shopping experience in 2019. So am I right in saying that you overcome that you close that gap that it gets more like direct selling? You can... You can... I'll let you speak.

Claudine: [00:09:23] It's much more like going into the store without having to go into the store.

Claudine: [00:09:29] So whether it's washing machines that we have a couple of big washing machine brands. You know, deciding on a washing machines is a complex complex decision and you might not understand all the terms of how much water it uses or how efficient it is. But you can can talk about well I have two kids and I do ten loads of laundry a week and most of them are colors. That's a conversation that is much more humanized than just having you know, going to a website and trying to figure out when they give you water capacity or soap capacity or your HE factor or whatever it is in those terms.

Claudine: [00:10:16] I do understand the basic but all a lot of dirty clothes I got a clean. I'm sure.

Phillip: [00:10:24] What's your take on why... So, not a single e-Commerce platform actually provides this type of an experience out of the box, so and because there's this trend that's moving more towards your style of you know, a conversation with the customer, what do you think the future is?

Phillip: [00:10:45] Is it is the future that this should be this is an expectation of the customer that they want to interact with brands this way, and so you services like zoovu or needed? What do you think is that is that next step of the evolution of the shopping experience, and how do you think that you're shaping that? I know you work with Amazon and Amazon shapes a lot of people's expectations of what brand engagement should look like. Yeah.

Claudine: [00:11:13] We're actually on 85 products on Amazon right now with our digital assistants and the brands that are using us on Amazon are really achieving about three times more of the sales than they were before. So we're seeing this across the board especially for certain brands.

Claudine: [00:11:35] You know you can increase your conversions by a 107%. It's really really impressive when you start giving customers what they want, which is really the information they need to make a good purchase decision. It's funny... where I see this going, I think we're going to get much more of this interaction between the digital online shopping experience... It's going to really start mirroring what we see in some of the highest and most customer centric retailers out there. I mean when I walk into a Neiman Marcus I'm greeted, they know who I am. You know, they can see, you know I have my personal shoppers, you know it's a very very

Claudine: [00:12:20] personalized one to one experience, and I think we'll see that reflected in our digital experience as well.

Claudine: [00:12:32] You know people using their houses as much anymore. Let's face it.

Phillip: [00:12:38] Or they're wanting to be out in the real world experience you know, having experiences with the products that they purchase. You know through brands that you power. Right?

Claudine: [00:12:46] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:12:47] What's your... You mentioned one statistic there is like almost the result of a case study of you know success that customers had with you. What are some other high notes of the types of of engagement that you see from your customers' customers? Like what is what is the return on that investment, and how is it working for the brands that are powered by zoovu?So

Claudine: [00:13:09] So a lot of it is around conversion rate, increasing sales, reducing return rates,

Claudine: [00:13:14] believe it or not, because if your customers are getting the right product that they want they're less likely to return it.

Claudine: [00:13:22] So those are some of the key metrics. We're also seeing an increase

Claudine: [00:13:26] in the average order value sometimes by upwards of 70 or 80%. The reason is that once they buy one product they tend to come back and buy more products. So this engagement is actually creating a much higher lifetime value of that customer with your brand. Loyalty... Happier customers buy more. We all know that. So this is just one means of accelerating that. And what we see with what we've seen was is people can be up and running within days. They could start seeing results almost immediately.

Claudine: [00:14:03] So it really gives them the confidence that they've they've made the right choice in our platform and that their customers are actually having a much better experience for their brand.

Phillip: [00:14:16] There's a...

Phillip: [00:14:19] I've been guilty in the past of sort of making fun of the marketing hype behind AI. I couldn't help but notice right in the very beginning of you describing the platform as it being AI powered.

Phillip: [00:14:33] Could you give me a little bit of an idea of what makes something AI powered on your end, as far as the of this conversational engagement with a customer?

Claudine: [00:14:50] So artificial intelligence, AI, has been around for quite a while, but the applications haven't been as close to home as we would think.

Claudine: [00:15:00] It's been used mostly for for large decision making complex algorithms and all that type of stuff. But what we do is actually we use something called machine learning, which is part of driving those artificial intelligence algorithms. And machine learning, what it's doing is it's taking looks at transactions or movements of someone online and then learning from seeing millions of these types of movements. So we've actually been looking at e-Commerce and sales patterns for the past eight years, and what we've been able to do is then develop the type of algorithms that will help guide you know, which questions we ask next. Or you know, helping the brand marketing manager figure out what's working in terms of which are my best questions? Which are the questions that are converting more? We actually have reporting in the background receiving that takes a look,a

Claudine: [00:16:01] a look at all what you're doing and actually recommends where you're doing better. So you have this means of optimizing that experience for your customer.

Phillip: [00:16:04] So you're using that to kind of plug back into, engaging the market for insights of how they could be making better decisions or crafting better customer journeys overall.

Phillip: [00:16:17] Wow. That's awesome.

Claudine: [00:16:23] Correct. Correct. So data. Yeah we've seen all the data, not just from one brand but a lot of different brands.

Claudine: [00:16:32] And what we can do is we can start seeing what trends are happening what c consumer preferences are looking at and feed that information back to you, you know the marketer.

Phillip: [00:16:36] If I were a marketer looking at this I'm probably thinking to myself, well this is all great,

Phillip: [00:16:42] I love the idea of knowing my customer deeper and having more understanding of who they are. But does that is that the kind of data that just lives inside of zoovu from now on? Or is that information that I can use to drive my customer data platforms in my CRM and you know drive marketing campaigns outside of zoovu like you know lead back campaigns right?

Claudine: [00:17:12] Absolutely. We're seeing a lot of people take this information actually use it for further SEO, for example. What words are are being used the most favorably by you customers? What are they looking for?

Claudine: [00:17:26] What are the keywords that they they seem to respond and iterate around? It's also helping with different parts of their marketing strategies whether that's email marketing, or display, or in-store options, point of sales and other ones. So we're seeing this with you know, the data that we're providing then being reflected in their marketing strategies across their different marketing channels.

Claudine: [00:17:55] So it's not just related to us. Plus you can take our data.

Claudine: [00:17:59] You can export it into Excel or business intelligence tools and you know basically glean more information out of it, or you can just use it within zoovu.

Phillip: [00:18:09] Speaking of other platforms, like what are the platforms that you integrate with today and what is that, you know, integration experience like?

Claudine: [00:18:17] So it's... You know, zoovu plays very well with others.

Claudine: [00:18:22] So, if there's an e-Commerce platform out there, we probably already have some integration APIs to go right into it. So for example, Magento is one of the strongest that we that we work with and being involved in that ecosystem is very very important to us.

Claudine: [00:18:41] But we're also working with Salesforce and Shopify and Adobe...

Claudine: [00:18:49] I can't thing off the top of my head, but...

Phillip: [00:18:52] I know that there's hundreds nowadays. There's hundreds.

Claudine: [00:18:56] I know. I was thinking... We pretty much have an open API, and it's not that difficult because of the way that the technology has been architected for us to add additional integrations on a very very fast basis.

Phillip: [00:19:12] And that's really cool. Where... Yeah, I really appreciate all your time.

Phillip: [00:19:17] Where are... Like where where could someone learn more about zoovu and engage zoovu and what's what do you think the next step would be for someone who says I really want to check it out?

Claudine: [00:19:29] Sure. So I think the first thing to do is just go to our web site. W w w dot zoo vu dot com and that spells z o o v u.

Claudine: [00:19:40] And on that we have a lot of samples, Live samples, and I always think that's the best way to demonstrate the power of the platform is just to go and experience some of those...

Claudine: [00:19:52] Those exact examples of people and brands using us.

Claudine: [00:19:56] There's also contact us information there's white papers that we've been writing about on the guided selling process. We have a pretty robust blog where we were constantly addressing some of the things marketers are going through as they implement guided selling to their web sites, into their mobile applications, or even into in-store kiosks. So there really is some great information there. We're only a click away. We have our own chat bot, so you can even use our own chat bot to quickly learn more about us and get information.

Phillip: [00:20:32] Well look at that.

Phillip: [00:20:33] Oh that's that's that's pretty awesome. So you're dog fooding. I love that.

Claudine: [00:20:37] Yes, we do dog food. We do. And we do zoovu.

Claudine: [00:20:44] So we have it. We like to talk about and ask people if they zoovu. We zoovu, too.

Phillip: [00:20:52] How awesome is that? I really appreciate all your time, Claudine. One thing that we like to do and I didn't prepare you for this, and I'm sorry to to put you on the back foot, but we can you know, let let's see how you do.

Phillip: [00:21:05] We play we always end an interview on Future Commerce by asking someone to make a prediction about what they think the next five years in retail looks like. So what do you think the future holds in the next five years in retail and commerce in general?

Claudine: [00:21:24] I think we're going to see a lot more adoption of technology into the retail and the buying experience. Everything from augmented reality to help promote our products or to support and service those products... I think will start becoming more prevalent. The online experience is going to get much much more personalized and targeted so that consumers are going to see what they want to see and be offered products when, where and for how much they want the products to be. So I see this vast customization at a global level where it's not just these major players in here it's now just anybody with a web site can take advantage of these tremendous technologies to reach consumers they've never reached before. And for consumers to reach products and vendors that they've never dealt with before because they didn't know that they were there. Like third world countries in Africa, and in parts of the South Pacific, Latin America, South America. Smaller companies you know, competing with big brands with the same type of personalization and sophistication that some of the world's leading brands use. So that's my prediction of what's going to happen the next five years. I think it's really going to be how... It's going to make the world smaller which is big for everybody.

Phillip: [00:22:54] Yeah. Oh that's that's fantastic. So a more capable, more capable technology implementations that allow smaller brands to compete. And hopefully that's empowered by the zoovu. And maybe the zoovu, too. Those brands. Wouldn't that be great? Well I really appreciate all time. Thank you so much,

Phillip: [00:23:13] Claudine Biancchi, CMO for zoovu, and yeah. And we want you to give us your feedback of what you thought of today's episode and maybe you, do you zoovu? We'd like to hear more about that and hear how you're engaging your customers. How are you asking the right questions and plugging that data back into your customer experience to you know, power your customers experience with some intelligence? I want to hear about that you can do that at Click on the show and leave some feedback on the discuss comment box or always drop us a line... Phillip with two L's and we'll be back. We'll see you at IRCE in just a couple of weeks' time. And you know, until then retail tech moves fast but future commerce is moving faster. Thank you so much, Claudine.

Claudine: [00:23:57] Thank you, Phil.

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