How Revolve Uses Personalization to Help Customers Find That One‑in‑a‑Million Dress
Revolve works with more than 3,000 clothing brands and offers about 1,000 new items for sale every week. How, in such an overwhelming sea of inventory, is a shopper supposed to find the perfect party dress by Saturday? The answer lies in data.
Revolve is as much a tech company as it is a fashion company. As such, Revolve has embraced scale at every level of its business, confident that such size will lead to efficiencies. The company combines the inspirational gloss of thousands of social media influencers with the power of deep and sustained omnichannel personalization.
Michael Mente, Revolve’s cofounder and co-chief executive officer, has said personalization is driven by “data from analysis of thousands of styles, dozens of attributes per style,” combined with data gleaned from customer interactions. Revolve has been doing this since 2003, when most fashion brands were barely aware of the power of personalization.
Clearly, it’s working: Revolve’s June initial public offering finished its first day at 89 percent above its opening price, making it the third best-performing IPO of the year at the time it went public. And Revolve’s comprehensive multichannel personalization strategy has landed it at number 13 on Sailthru’s third annual Retail Personalization Index. The Index ranks 100 retail brands according to how well they use data to personalize and connect the customer experience across email, site, and mobile.
The Algorithm as Curator
Revolve has all the advantages of a digitally native brand: It’s not paying mall owners for retail space, nor does it have a corps of in-person store associates. Its technology was built for personalization from Day One. But many of the tactics that Revolve uses to create a personalized customer experience can be used by any retail marketer. Revolve takes advantage of a carefully thought-out recommendation strategy. Then it combines those recommendations with a cheery, breezy tone to make them friendlier and less robotic.
Revolve’s mobile app is one of the most impressive shopping apps out there, combining content, commerce and inspiration. And Revolve has integrated its various platforms so that customers never feel lost or lose track of items they find crave-worthy.
One of the unexpected ways Revolve uses recommendation algorithms is to create and stock curated shops for each individual customer. These shops are initially stocked using collaborative filtering, with items displayed under banners such as “complete the look” and “similar items” as well as “recommended for you.”
Once Revolve understands a customer’s taste, it makes sure each curated shop stays up to date. When a new item comes in that a particular customer might like, that item goes right to the shop. That way, the customer doesn’t need to browse the whole site to find the newest, most relevant items. Then Revolve goes a step further, integrating highlights from its social media feed — stocked with images from thousands of influencers — under the banner “I [heart] the ‘Gram.”
Marrying People Power With Technology
Revolve incorporates an easy-to-scroll “recently viewed” dashboard that is integrated across channels. So shoppers who were browsing on a laptop during a down moment at work can easily use their phones to pick up where they left off later in the day. Shoppers will also receive well-timed notifications, across channels, based on their behavior and the brands they chose during onboarding.
With more than 3,500 influencers working with the brand, Revolve has a steady stream of relevant social media content to offer its customers. The app combines a curated social media feed with “complete the look” recommendations and beautiful editorial features. Not surprisingly, Revolve’s app wins a rating of 4.9 stars.
Revolve has built its brand on a number of key insights. The company understands that data and personalization can offer a curated experience that even a skilled in-person store associate would have a hard time matching. It understands the importance of a seamless integration between channels, and uses a wide variety of recommendations to personalize every single communication with their customers. Those tactics have the potential to win rave reviews for any retailer.