Machine learning is rapidly changing the martech landscape, and is playing a big role in the personalisation of ecommerce experiences.
Attraqt is one player in this place, helping retailers with search, navigation, personalization and recommendations.
We caught up with Attraqt’s Head of Experience Optimisation, Katie Woodhead, for our latest ‘day in the life’.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As Head of Experience Optimisation, myself and my amazing team are responsible for ensuring that Attraqt’s retail clients get the best possible value from our visual merchandising platform. We help our retail customers to understand how best to optimise performance using our technology to achieve their key business goals.
My team are a diverse mix of experienced visual merchandisers and data scientists, who have worked for retailers in the past, and who collectively understand the trading needs of our brands, as well as the expectations of their customers. Our client’s customers are at the heart of everything we do and we make an effort to understand what they want and how they shop in order to create strategies that are completely customer centric.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
We sit within the customer experience department of Attraqt, reporting to the director of customer experience. I think it’s important that, as consultants to our retail customers, we sit within a department that is all about customers needs, as well as the needs of their shoppers.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Experience in retail trading or a similar ecommerce environment is very beneficial to understand first-hand about the challenges that our customers face. This really helps when it comes to offering sound strategic advice, as you gain a deep understanding of retail business goals and KPIs while understanding the limitations that can occur in ecommerce retail, based on your own personal experience.
Analytical skills are also essential, as we interpret data on a daily basis to analyse performance while identifying opportunities that our clients can capitalise on when it comes to making improvements to key business metrics, from conversion to AOV.
It’s also important to be confident when it comes to communicating with a varied mix of people. We meet individuals from a variety of backgrounds and sectors in diverse ecommerce job roles, so being a people-person is a definite pre-requisite. It’s also crucial to have an unbiased and objective approach when it comes to providing advice.
Tell us about a typical working day…
I know it’s a cliché, but no two days are ever really the same, which keeps things fresh and exciting for us. There’s quite a lot of travel involved as we have retail customers who are located all over the UK and the world, so plenty of time is spent on trains and planes. Typically, our day includes a lot of problem solving, which can be fun and allows us to get creative by coming up with innovative solutions to hard challenges.
We can usually be found holding client consultations, preparing project proposals, developing strategic plans with clients, attending meetings with prospects to help interpret their goals and estimate the impact of our technology, working on new innovation case studies with our product team, writing articles, speaking at conferences & events, or if we’re lucky – just out for dinner with a client. Sometimes we have the added bonus of working with a client who is based in a glamorous location in Europe or the US, which is a definite job highlight.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
In addition to travel, working with varied people is what I really love about the role. We’re super lucky at Attraqt to have so many well-renowned clients who have great teams to work with. We love helping clients to make a positive impact to their performance or solve a problem that they’ve been struggling with for some time. We’re doing something that we love every day and sometimes it doesn’t really feel like work (although it is obviously!)
I suppose the only thing that can potentially suck – when you’re doing something that you’re really passionate about, you need to remember to keep a good work-life balance. When you enjoy what you do, it can be easy to work extra hours without realising, but it’s important to leave work in the office and have some down-time.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
The key measure of success for us is the success of our retail clients. This is typically measured in some of the key performance metrics that we tie our experience optimisation strategies to, from increasing onsite conversions and enhancing average order values, to delivering organisational efficiency gains through the strategic adoption of our automated machine-learning technologies. Each of our strategies is directly tied to ROI for each retailer that we work with, and through the optimisation of their merchandising strategies using our unique technology platform, we deliver this value for our clients in measurable terms.
The ultimate indicator of our success isn’t just down to the numbers though. It’s about the entire shopper experience, for both the retailers that we work with, and their own valued customers. By being able to create visually impressive shopping pages that are customer friendly and accessible, we create the best value for both ecommerce shoppers and the brilliant brands that they buy from.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Google Analytics, Slack, Excel, my diary and my colourful Post-It notes.
How did you end up at Attraqt, and where might you go from here?
I’d been working in online visual merchandising for some time and was considering starting my own visual merchandising consultancy business. I had used Attraqt in previous roles, and I loved the technology and had a good relationship with several people in the company, so I got in touch to ask if I could come to their offices and run my idea past the team to get their advice and potentially work with a couple of Attraqt clients to get some case studies for my services. Attraqt invited me in to talk and I was very surprised to end up being offered a role heading up a new consulting department. Unknown to me, the company had been thinking about launching their own VM consulting service, so I happily agreed to join the team and jumped straight into the role.
As for where I might go from here, it really depends on how technology continues to advance and develop, as there are so many new opportunities in the industry now thanks to the ever-evolving advancement of new technologies. But at present, things are so busy and exciting at Attraqt, that I’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
Which ecommerce experiences do you admire?
For me, it’s all about retailers who possess a creative and unique brand image, with a seamless and engaging ecommerce experience to match. Gucci is an iconic leader in the field for me at the moment thanks to its amazing end-to-end onsite experience. I love the powerful visuals, the captivating merchandising layouts and the clean user interfaces, along with the brilliant ‘Shop the Look’ product recommendations, which can leave me browsing for hours at a time.
In terms of high-street labels, All Saints is a leader thanks to its great product imagery and accessible navigation menus. I’m also a major fan of Charlotte Tilbury for their smart use of product cross-selling, as well as their must-read make-up guides. It offers a complete customer experience that is interesting, engaging and easy to browse and shop.
Do you have any advice for retailers unsure whether they should explore machine learning?
Machine-learning has so much potential when it comes to enhancing the onsite ecommerce experience. In today’s constantly online, multi-channel shopping world, brands are faced with more customer demand than ever before, as well as a constant stream of customer browsing and purchasing data, that needs to be analysed and acted upon if retailers want to drive positive changes to their business bottom line.
This is where machine-learning technologies and automated merchandising systems can really help. By using algorithms to analyse customer shopping data and customer preferences, brands can get a much better sense of what their customers want in terms of on-site product selections. Automated technologies can then be used to automatically merchandise the onsite experience so that it matches these specific customer needs. This gives retailers so much potential to impress customers and drive sales, as it’s all about delivering relevant and exciting products at scale to the right people when they’re browsing and shopping. In this respect, it can be a real game-changer for today’s ecommerce retailers who are serious about the online customer experience.