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What’s behind the “single biggest value” in Dymocks’ marketing communications

Posted: 2 May 2018 11:29 am


According to Dymocks' managing director, if retailers aren't thinking about this, they are going to miss the boat.

Hearing Steve Cox speak about Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and the importance of data, you wouldn't guess that he was talking on behalf of a 140-year-old bookstore.

Cox, the managing director of Dymocks, shed light on the surprisingly technology-first approach the retailer has taken to curate its army of booklovers at the Oracle CloudWorld event in Sydney this week. Dymocks uses Oracle to drive its data-first Booklover program, of which members represent close to 50% of the retailer's sales.

"The booklover program is the single biggest value in our marketing-communications mix without a doubt," Cox said.

"We have in excess of half a million email addresses and in excess of a million customers on that platform [...] Since I’ve been managing director there has really been a journey of better utilisation of that data and better utilisation of the customer segmentation."

"The goal is to communicate individually with them."

Dymocks uses various data strategies to optimise its campaigns. This includes control groups to test the success of a campaign, Send Time Optimisation to personalise the delivery time of emails to individuals and automatically triggered campaigns sent when customers reach milestones or fall out of categories.

"The beauty of this whole space is that everything is measurable."

Data is a massive opportunity in retail...

According to Cox, experimenting with the possibilities of customer data will help retailers win the game.

"A physical retail environment is still a very important part, but it’s just a changing and evolving space and you just need to think and use technology to better deliver."

"You should be able to walk into one of our stores, be officially recognised by a system in the store, have a message come onto your phone that says 'Welcome to the store, Steve. Your last purchase was The Barefoot Investor so here are five books we think you might like.'"

While Dymocks is a larger retailer, Cox says that the availability of existing algorithms means that it's still possible for smaller businesses to innovate with this technology.

"It’s open source. That’s the exciting thing about it. As long as you keep on top of thinking about what it can do for your business then it’s actually relatively doable for small businesses to bring in sophisticated AI, whereas in years gone by you would've had to have rooms full of computers and data scientists."

For Cox, the data is available, but it will be the businesses that are able to use it well that will do well.

"I think data is a massive opportunity in retail. And if retailers aren’t thinking long and hard about what their data strategy is across all of their touch points, and ensuring they have their foundations in place, are going to miss the boat.

"Today we are in Day 0 of data and it’s the most exciting space for retail as a whole. Everyone needs to be thinking strategically about it about how to use that data to transform the experience for their customers in the years to come."

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