Retail has seen one of the most fascinating cross sections with online technology in recent years, taking another turn with the introduction of social media, sharing and recommendations. Consumer data is one of the most powerful collections being put to work in this epoch, and Wayfair is right in the middle of the action.
In today’s Snapshot Series we hear from Niraj Shah, CEO and co-founder of Wayfair, who discusses the ways in which this massive e-tailer is putting data to work and keeping the consumer first. Shah also has a few things to say about Pinterest’s current limitations, and the worst gift he’s ever received.
What’s the biggest area of impact Wayfair’s seen as a result of data analysis?
There is no one specific area of impact because we collect data on everything from everywhere and get it into one central place. We built an analytics system that makes it easy to slice and dice the data any way we want. On top of that, we’ve done something that is somewhat unique – we give everyone in the company – all 950 people — full access to all of the data. As a result, you have customer service folks looking at their Net Promoter Score (NPS) data daily; you have advertising managers looking at every campaign and traffic levels; you have operations managers looking at time in transit by supplier and by carrier. Ultimately, everyone makes better decisions – You get gains everywhere.
Where does retail’s social network integration cross the line?
I think you need to respect customers’ privacy. Not everyone wants people to know what they are shopping for, looking at, and buying. In my view, the right way to do it is to offer sharing as an option, but not require it or presume that there is definitely interest. By doing that, I think customers know they can trust you.
Pinterest is becoming a notable marketing tool, but what are its current limitations?
Pinterest has really taken off. So some things that will come — like an API and ways for a retailer to better integrate for two-way collaboration/sharing with their customers – are a bit down the road. Overall, I think Pinterest is amazing and fantastic. The users of Pinterest love it. And we’ve seen that our referrals from social media have increased by 20 percent since we started pinning.
Wayfair took to e-retail early on. What gives you confidence in/for the future?
The benefits of online shopping – access to selection, the convenience of easy ordering, and good value — are very strong and won’t change. Those advantages show you the potential for online shopping today and support the tremendous growth that’s ahead. We are very bullish – home goods sales are only now starting to move online. We’re in the early innings of this game.
Kristen Nicole has also contributed to other publications, from TIME Techland to Forbes. Her work has been syndicated across a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, and MSNBC.
Kristen Nicole published her first book, The Twitter Survival Guide, and is currently completing her second book on predictive analytics.