LeSportsac Uses AI to Build Omni-Experiences for Shoppers

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Brand: LeSportsac
Headquarters: New York, New York
Vendors: Nosto, One Rockwell
Bottom Line: Using sales data from their e-commerce sites, brands can more effectively merchandise their brick-and-mortar stores.

LeSportsac is an iconic American lifestyle brand with more than 40 years of experience making handbags and luggage. But as digital marketing practices evolve in the retail space, LeSportsac has had to shake up its strategy to keep apace. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning, LeSportsac has been able to modernize its marketing programs and more effectively serve its customers.

Since January of this year, LeSportsac has been working with a vendor called Nosto to analyze shopper preferences and user behaviors in real-time. Using AI and machine learning, LeSportsac has added product-based cross-selling, personalized recommendations, and bestseller recommendations to its e-commerce website. Not only have the features enhanced the shopping experience for LeSportsac customers, but they’ve also helped the brand get to know its shoppers and build out a more comprehensive omni-experience.

“It’s about the experience. It’s having the right data to complement our customer’s shopping journey,” says Berly Isaak, senior director of global marketing and PR at LeSportsac. “We’re known for our prints. For a customer … looking at a floral Weekender, having a predictive way of suggesting styles in that print or an accessory that’s often purchased along with that handbag really completes the journey.”

LeSportsac’s decision to work with Nosto for product recommendations came shortly after the brand made the decision to re-platform. Isaak says LeSportsac worked closely with its e-commerce agency, One Rockwell, to decide which applications and vendors would help the brand succeed with its digital flagship. It was One Rockwell that introduced LeSportsac to Nosto.

Although data on shopper behaviors is inherently useful, the timeliness of that data is also important. Finding out which products shoppers like or dislike in real time is inherently better than finding out that same information a week or month after the shopper has left the store and the sale has been lost.

“LeSportsac.com is our most important door. It’s our digital flagship. Our goal was to make the customer journey into our ‘digital home’ seamless, engaging, and easy,” Isaak says. “We are able to obtain valuable consumer insights by personalizing, and as consumer engagement deepens, we grow our business. We didn’t just want our site to be a transactional platform; it’s a vital tool for marketing, research, and overall business strategy.”

LeSportsac is hardly alone with its push into the world of AI and machine learning. In fact, to a certain degree, the company is simply keeping up with the Joneses, as more retail brands utilize this type of personalized marketing technology and consumers come to expect more from their online and offline shopping experiences. But LeSportsac’s global size and position as a retail brand that sells via its own physical stores, online stores, and retail stores in more than 60 countries worldwide, puts the company in a unique position.

“Knowing our customer from an online presence allows us to really build out an omni-experience,” Isaak says. “If we know customers who live in a particular city or state often purchase this one style or we see high click rates for recommended products, we know this information can be used for our brick-and-mortar to merchandise the store.”

In the world of digital shopping, Isaak says consumers can easily feel like they are just an online transaction. It’s the brand’s duty to make the online shopping experience as good as if the customer walked into a physical store. With AI and machine learning, LeSportsac is now able to be a personal shopper for its customers and to let them know they’re a part of the brand identity.

Up next for LeSportsac is a push into geo-targeted product recommendations. For example, an online shopper in a warm locale like California might see different product recommendations than one living in a cold-weather state like North Dakota or Maine. If a certain print is more popular in Florida than Texas, then shoppers in Florida would theoretically be more likely to see that print appear in their product recommendations. Isaak sees geo-targeting as a natural complement to LeSportsac’s current marketing personalization efforts.

“In these digital times, sales reports are not enough,” Isaak says. “Having the data of the entire customer journey allows each department from merchandising, marketing to design to build and promote products that will enable a true consumer-brand relationship.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.