Winner of the Good Retail Awards’ Digital Impact Award, MandM Direct, has invested significantly into creating a one-of-a-kind digital experience for customers. Head of Ecommerce, Paul Allen spoke to Modern Retail about their use of deep learning for ecommerce and personalisation.
Meet MandM Direct
MandM Direct has redesigned its approach to ecommerce, providing visitors with the right products while forging deep and long-lasing customer relationships.
They have achieved this impressive feat by introducing an improved product recommendation strategy, partnered with Qubit (which was acquired by Coveo in late 2021), to interpret customer data, conversion rates and customer lifetime value, as well as understanding intent to reduce abandonment. Their use of real-time deep learning has simplified the process of making personalised product suggestions and upselling.
By taking the steps to enhance the digital experience, MandM Direct has been able to tailor its ecommerce strategy to be mutually beneficial for shoppers, as well as boosting sales.
Making an outstanding first impression
The MandM Direct site has been designed to impress every customer, based on the ways that they like to shop. Paul explained the importance of making that first impression a great one.
“It’s hugely important. If you make a good first impression, the customer is more likely to stay on your site, purchase and be loyal. So just making sure you’re putting the right things in front of the customers on the site is hugely important to help them get to what they’re after.”
Changing customer expectations
It’s no secret that recent years have been turbulent in the retail sector. MandM Direct’s approach to utilising data and analytics has meant that they are able to adapt to fit the rapidly changing requirements of customers.
“The last couple of years have been strange, to say the least. We’ve seen customer behaviour ebb and flow with lockdowns making more people move online. We have definitely seen a change in behaviour, not just in terms of the number of customers, but the times people are shopping and the things that they are shopping for. There’s been a massive difference in customers’ preferences. The Qubit algorithm helps us to stay a step ahead of what’s happening, through deep learning and AI to understand our customesr.”
Finding the right tech and deep learning for ecommerce
The role of MandM Direct’s technology has been pivotal in shaping its retail strategy. As well as explaining the challenges he has faced when choosing the right technology, Paul outlined methods for retailers to ensure partners benefit their business in the long-term and the ways that he has utilised deep learning for ecommerce.
“Finding the right partner is a challenge. So many claim to do what you need, but it’s about finding the right one to go on that journey with you. I call them a partner instead of a supplier as we work so closely with them. We make suggestions to them and they come up with ideas to make it happen.
“In terms of personalisation and getting the right products in front of the customer at the right time, the process is difficult and it’s so important to find the right technology. The benefit of AI and deep learning is that it takes a lot of the heavy lifting off of that. Data means we can move a lot quicker than we could without.”
How to understand your customers
Paul shared his top tips for retailers wanting to gain an in-depth understanding of their customers, as well as the reasons he would recommend deep learning for ecommerce.
“Data is key, but not just one source of data. There’s onsite behaviour you can get through Google analytics. Understanding customer preferences and customer history can be so powerful if you can get this to guide product recommendations and suggestions. The way we like to look at it is that it’s a mutually beneficial exercise between the business and the customer. Our targets align. They want to come and purchase something and we want them to do that. It’s really about understanding each customer’s preferences to make that process as simple and streamlined as possible.”
Winning at The Good Retail Awards
“It was such a great surprise to so many in the business. Our partnership with Qubit has been such a success and the team has put such a huge amount of work into it. It’s been so nice for the team internally, as well as externally to be recognised at The Good Retail Awards for what we’re doing.”
What’s next for MandM Direct?
MandM Direct continues to innovate in the world of ecommerce, utilising digital opportunities to offer customers a first-class experience.
“In terms of personalisation, we plan to continue down this route as we see it as a very beneficial path to go down. We’ve been working with Qubit on product recommendations, but we’re looking at content personalisation and really making the customer experience more personalised. Our hope is that if we produce content and products that are relevant to the customer, they will be more loyal to us and we also won’t bother them with things that aren’t relevant to them.”
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.