26 Sep Conversation with Alison Zemny Stiefel, VP of Marketing at ShopSlyle
“Influencers are shaping the future of commerce and content marketing”. The young woman who speaks on stage in August in Boston at the eTail conference knows what she is talking about. Alison Zemmy Stiefel is the head of marketing for ShopStyle.
Influencer marketing is not new, but ShopStyle has invented the ultimate shortcut between influence and shopping cart, allowing a generation of talented influencers to develop their business by being master on board.
ShopStyle.com, based in San Francisco and acquired by Rakuten in 2017, is the leading fashion shopping search engine used by 10 million shoppers monthly to search, find, and shop exactly what they’re looking for from thousands of retailers and brands – all in one place. But it does not stop there. Entering ShopStyle Collective, an influencer marketing platform that connects brands and retailers with its network of 20,000 influencers who use ShopStyle Collective to monetize their content across blogs and social channels. With the largest global network of both consumers and influencers, combined with leading search and discovery technology, and extensive data, ShopStyle gives brands and retailers a way to move from campaigns centered around building brand awareness towards ones that focus on conversion and actually driving sales to a retailer.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Alison Zemny Stiefel at eTail Boston, to learn more about how ShopStyle is utilizing influencer marketing to create stronger connections between consumers and brands.
Alison Stiefel : I have been there for 2 years and when I arrived, ShopStyle was very much a special search engine. However, the business of influencers is to create a lot of great inspirational content. Influencers have amazing tastes and looks. So we spent the last 2 years making ShopStyle’s platform a place to discover and get inspired. We asked ourselves : “How do we use that content on ShopStyle vs us shooting our own content?”
:: What are the advantages for a retailer to work with ShopStyle compare to other e-commerce fashion platforms ?
It is interesting because my background is in retail and the reason I came to ShopStyle was because of the advantages ShopStyle has over other partners and platforms.
The unique advantage is that we have 2 businesses. We have ShopStyle.com, with its search and discovery platform, and then we have an influencer platform, ShopStyle Collective, which is 20 000 influencers creating content. By having these 2 platforms, we are able to reach over 350M shoppers, more than the US population!
Part of ShopSlyle’s vision is we believe in individual and unique style. And we have seen how the world has changed, everyone wants to have their own look. So with this authetntic content from influencers – these thousands and thousands of looks and outfits that people create, we are able to take this content and have influencers transform into conversions for partners, through their blogs, social platforms, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
And we are also able to take that content and syndicate it on ShosStyle.com, so the discovery part on ShopStyle is all about influencers content.
We help influencers drive conversion of purchases.
:: How does the influencer marketing platform ShopStyle Collective work, connecting brands and retailers, its network of 20,000 influencers and ShopStyle’s customers ?
We think everyone has a unique style and we celebrate individuality. So we allow anyone who has a social platform, a blog, YouTube, anyone who creates authentic content, to join. They join our program and we provide them with a view of all the data from all the content they post. If you post on your blog through our technology, there are widgets and tracking links and everything that allows us to know what the content is that they post. So if it is a flower dress, for example, it will say to the shopper this is a flower dress for $320 and the brand is Gucci, lets say.
What it does for the influencer is that if their shoppers clicks thought that, and converts, then the influencer will gain a commission off that. The insights ShopStyle Collective provides helps the influencer create more engaging content that readers and followers will love – and there are no other influencer networks out there giving them that kind of data.
We allow influencers content to be seen and not just make it influential, but actually convert it. Because we can also say that this dress is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, or these other places, in case their followers do not have the right size. So we are able to give followers other recommendations to make that content shoppable.
Then for influencers, we provide all the data back to them in an analytic dashboard, enablingany influencer to evolve from content creator to digital marketer. If you have a blog and you know that people like this dress, but you want to know exactly what price point, what retailers, what brands, we gave them all the data to help improve the conversion, and to have more revenue from the partners.
It is about the combination of Search Technology and Data Technology that ShopStyle provides that helps empower influencers. We want to be everywhere and anywhere the shoppers are. By helping influencers, in all different platforms, we allow the shopper to connect and shop any retailer at anytime, globally.
:: Your tech team is known for never stopping. What is the new feature you just launched ?
There is a lot! One of our recently launched features is called Favorite. If an influenceur creates a widget with the featured technology, their blog becomes a place where their followers can save a product and be reminded about it, and get a sale from the influencer powered by ShopStyle.
Let’s say you are reading a blog and you are interested in buying a beautiful dress but you are not ready to buy it right then. We empower bloggers and influencers to be able to have followers save it directly from their blog, shop it another day and be reminded when it goes on sale.
This is a new technology feature. We constantly challenge ourselves to find ways to help influencers find ways to improve revenues for our retail partners.
:: What are your best acquisition, and loyalty channels ?
We are very similar to a retailer e-commerce platform. Digital marketing, SEO, social sites, etc. So we are very digitally-focused for our acquisition. At the moment, we are very excited about our loyalty program. We get 10M shoppers a month, and we want to make sure they come back to discover and shop again. So it was really important to launch our loyalty program called Shop Smarter.
It has 3 benefits :
Favorite – It is like a universal wishlist. It gives the ability to save an item, a brand, a trend. So if the velvet is a trend, you save that search and see other products. Or anytime you favorite an influencer and this influencer creates a content post with an outfit, you get notified that there is a new thing. You save all your favorites in one place and based on these preferences, ShopStyle creates a personal feed, and you will be given new arrivals of this brand. Or items that are now on sale. Or it was sold out and now it is back in stock. It is a new experience and our members our loving it.
The second part is Exclusive Offers – offers that you can only receive from Shopstyle. We work with our partners to give exclusive offers, for example, to new members, to achieve the goals that our retailers partners have at that time.
And the third benefit is Rewards. The first reward we launched is cash back, backed by Rakuten.
:: You just launched the Program ?
Yes, we launched May 1st! We get so much traffic, so we asked ourselves how to get these customers to come back, search, engage, explore and convert? We have already seen some great data points: significant increases in repeat customers and also revenues to our partners who participate in the cash back program.
“We are very excited about our new Membership Program. We have seen great results for ShopStyle, and also great results for our customers and for our retailers”
:: You share lots of data to your retailers, much more than others fashion e-commerce platform?
We know what people are searching for, we know the savings, the top brands, the top categories, trends, and the top influencers that people are interested in. And some of these influencers are setting these trends, so it is very informative for retailers to know what shoppers are looking for.
:: What insights from your customers did you receive that entice ShopStyle to launch “Shop Smarter” Program? And what is Rakuten’s role in the process?
The first one, that I talked about previously, is that millions of shoppers visit us but not necessary come back, and we wanted to increase that. We also did a customer survey to ask them what would be the best Loyalty Program?
First it is free. Second, they wanted to have the ability to save anything they wanted and gain a look at that. And the rewards. So we went through all the feedback and design with these three benefits.
The third thing is Rakuten; our parent. So leveraging that technology on the cash back reward is something that only made us fit more naturally in our Rakuten ecosystem. You can discover trends, you can shop influencers, you can save your products and get lists and you can be rewarded.
And all of us are rewarded. Finding greats content is rewarding, searching the ways you favorite is rewarding, and you are rewarded by gaining money back to you for shopping.
Some people may be shopping ShopStyle for discovery, or maybe for loyalty. We say at ShopStyle that our goal is to be the full funnel marketing solution for our partners from discovery, searching intent to conversion and loyalty. This is one of the big advantages of ShopStyle.
Images are the shopping funnel Discovery is influencers and social platform, looks and outfits on shopStyle.com. And the intent is searching, saving and remind it. The reward is conversion and loyalty.
We want to support all social platforms and they have all a different delivery for a shopper. We see them as a way for us to share great content and also enable influencers to see shoppers being actually able to shop it. We just launch Instagram Shopping.
With our membership programs, we have really invested in personalization. We have a new feed we launched so all the things you like, your home page shows up with only the things you like. So if you like an influencer, only their looks will show up for you. Or if you really like leather, only leather will show up, or only the designer Prada – a feed with only what you like, so you can really see what you want. That’s what personalization is all about, that’s what ShopStyle delivers, and our customers are loving it.
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