Though you may not have heard of them, the Group Beaumanoir is one of the leading groups in French prêt-à-porter. They include 5 women’s brands, which translates into nearly 2,800 POS worldwide and 14,300 partners – a powerful point of sale network with a solid internet presence, thanks to an innovative e-commerce strategy.

Pauline LE RAT, Digital Optimization Manager at The Group Beaumanoir

The Group Beaumanoir includes (among others) the brands Cache Cache, Bonobo, and Bréal: though these 3 sites each share a kind of ‘common core’, they have a graphic identity unique to each. In order to grow, stay strong in our market in the face of online and offline competitors, and to achieve our goals, the Group made an about-face and put digital technology at the center of their strategy.  It’s not easy to incorporate digital tech into your business when you’re a well-established retailer! But for us, it was move forward or perish…and we decided to run forward…

Though each site might have its own distinctive website, they all share the same drive to grow and adapt in the face of a very competitive market. The Group decided to use our tool in order to put in place a ‘Test and Learn’ approach. Pauline LE RAT shares their success story.

Can you sum up in a few words the shape you were in – organizationally and strategically speaking – when you decided to put an A/B testing solution in place?

We were just finishing up a website makeover project to create a ‘common core’ for three of our brands – Cache Cache, Bonobo, Bréal. This project took over a year, so by the time it actually got launched we were already late…we didn’t get the much anticipated ‘wow effect’ we were hoping for, even though we worked with a UX agency.

The first few months, we would choose things to optimize on the site based on instinct, like, ‘I saw such-and-such on another site’ and ‘nobody ever clicks on this link, let’s delete it’. We continued this way until we realized that instinct wasn’t enough: we needed data to help us make our decisions, and to bring an ROI component to our requests.

Two years ago, A/B testing was the hot new thing in the digital world. At Beaumanoir, we needed easily accessible and clear data in order to stay agile and nail quick wins. The eCommerce director, Erick Bourriot, had already worked with AB Tasty and recommended we give it a try – so we went full steam ahead!

This is how we were able to start using a Test and Learn approach that put the client at the heart of our strategy. It’s exciting to have ideas you believe in, and then put them to the test with your website visitors. And these tests also help us determine business impact and prioritize requests.

What were your first campaigns? How did you deploy them?

We started by changing the wording on our navigation bar, doing things like writing pricing information in French instead of English, or else changing the color of our CTA. But we very quickly realized that we wanted to go further. We wanted to test a lot of ideas that needed to be thought through and planned as part of a roadmap – we worked on this with Julie [part of the AB Tasty CSM team]. Beaumanoir really wanted to run tests that had a strong ROI component, and Julie, thanks to her experience and expert eye, quickly made a lot of test idea suggestions that fit with our needs and expectations, and especially with our top priority – mobile!

Since then, through working together, we picked up good habits, and started sharing a roadmap of 5 or 6 tests or personalization campaigns, depending on the brand. We’re kept busy, especially since we don’t have an internal integration team, so we also need the help of AB Tasty’s team of developers. Another plus is that we’ve integrated our DMP, so we can go even further with our A/B tests and personalization campaigns.

What have you learned?

Humility! This process has taught us to not be complacent, to always challenge our own ideas and to take a fresh look at things every day. We challenge ourselves – what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

We also noticed that a test that worked well for the Bonobo site wouldn’t necessarily work for another…so you can’t use a one-size-fits-all model.

To give you an example, for product list pages, we tested displaying 5 products per line instead of 3 or 2. On the Bonobo site, visitors clicked much more on the product images which were displayed 3 per line, but for the Bréal site the winning variation was 2 per line! We were able to adapt each site to its specific visitors.

Today, we listen more to the visitor and let the numbers speak for themselves. And when the data does the talking, ‘ego-marketing’ doesn’t have the same weight! The process of testing is being seen as more and more valuable by upper management. I often compare the testing process to cooking a recipe: We test a new version, and it either has a great conversion rate (‘tastes amazing’), or it’s so-so, and we try to improve on the recipe the next time.

I often compare the A/B testing process to cooking a recipe - you can always do it better! Click To Tweet

What did using an A/B testing solution change about how your sites were managed?

Having an A/B testing solution is great…but if nobody uses it…it’s worthless! In the beginning, everyone kept saying they didn’t have the time, that they’d get around to it later, after Christmas, the Sales season, other big events we had…But we quickly realized we needed somebody dedicated to using the tool. If there’s nobody to steer the boat, it sinks. So my position was created, with the aim of putting in place the ever-improving Test and Learn process.

This process gave way to a new organization that involved myself and the head of IT, with 15 day development sprints and a week’s testing, all leading to a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decision regarding final production the following week. We really like this way of working – the testing helps us better articulate the final version to our developer team.

The testing phase isn’t mandatory, and we don’t test everything – only the troublesome parts. Sometimes, I see something I like, we quickly test it out, and we have our answer down the road. If the project is viable from an ROI perspective, I get in there with my mockups, a clearly defined need and stats. The eCommerce, technical and project teams are reassured and the project is rock solid! Testing also pushes us to go further, to innovate. We’re able to minimize risks since we control the traffic that goes to each variation. And if it doesn’t work, we can easily end the test and move on to a new idea.

Can you explain your on-site personalization process?

Even though we haven’t yet explored all of the personalization plugins that are integrated into the solution, we’ve decided to use our DMP to bring together the online and offline buyer journey in order to improve the customer experience. This way, we can send personalized messages to certain client segments. In 2018, ‘personalization’ is going to be our battle cry, and we’re going to use cross-channel data to facilitate and improve the client’s overall experience.

Why did you decide to personalize your sites?

We want to build stronger relationships with our clients – listen to them, make them happy…we’re done with top-down thinking! Now, the clients get to choose, and influencers determine trends. Nowadays, you’ve got to be client-centric to answer their needs.

Personalization allows us to make the purchasing process easier, and to adapt to our clients’ needs. We don’t want to speak to somebody who only buys from bricks-and-mortar stores in the same way as someone who purchases exclusively online. Personalizing on-site elements via our DMP and/or AB Tasty’s native targeting criteria lets us send the right message at the right time and on the right device. This way, we can more quickly and easily encourage purchase confirmations.

In the future, we’ll have a fully comprehensive customer journey. If the client has a loyalty card, we can send them notifications or alerts to remind them of their loyalty discount, that they only have X number of days to take advantage of it, etc. We also want to turn mobile devices into personal assistants, something that makes life easier, with messages like ‘Hello Julie, today it’s 80 degrees in Saint Malo’, just to let them know, and then why not slip in a relevant product offer.

In sum, we want to strengthen personalization to encourage repeat visits on our websites or in our stores!