Even if you don’t shop at Neiman Marcus, chances are you know them by reputation. They are just one of those unique brands that manage to stay top of mind, remaining known for outstanding service and outlandish inventory. Talking with their CMO of six years, Wanda Gierhart, it is clear that this reputation is neither an accident nor a presumption–it is something that must be continually earned and reinforced with new actions on multiple fronts.
For example, Neiman installed Memory Mirrors in dressing rooms to transform the shopping experience, making it more fun and more social. Neiman was also quick to embrace e-commerce, an area other brick & mortar retailers ignored early on. Remarkably, e-commerce now accounts for over 1/4 of Neiman’s sales. Not surprisingly, Neiman also has a robust content marketing program including a blog, lots of social sharing (#NMMakeSomeNoise) and its legendary catalogs, a program that garnered the Content Engagement Award from The CMO Club.
In our interview below, you’ll notice a profound focus on the customer and the experience they have with Neiman whether in-store, on a desktop or on a mobile device. Neiman customers would have it no other way. Would yours?
Drew: I have read that Neiman Marcus is using personalized marketing to drive sales, with mobile being a large part of this effort. How successful have your efforts been to date in this area?
Some of our largest successes have been in personalizing product recommendations, personalized search, and email personalization. While we continue to experiment across all platforms and numerous personalization techniques, in general what has worked best in personalization for desktop, is also working the best in mobile after customizing the experience to the needs of the smaller screen.
Drew: Can you talk about the Memory Mirror and how that is having an impact on not just the shopping experience but also social sharing?
Superior customer service starts with a great overall experience. The Memory Mirror allows our customers to capture a variety of still and video images that can be shared with friends and allow the customer to see how an outfit looks front and back and while moving. The initial reaction has been very positive and we are currently rolling out to additional stores. We have had so much demand for the mirror that we added it as a fantasy gift this year.
Drew: I read on Forbes that e-commerce now accounts for 26% of revenue. For a historically brick and mortar chain, that’s really amazing. To what do you attribute this success and how is that effecting your overall marketing approach?
Early on we recognized the importance of e-commerce and invested heavily there. We continue to focus on e-commerce/mobile as an area of strategic investment. Our primary objective remains delivering the best shopping experience for our customer regardless of the platform. We mean to make the experience as seamless as possible for the Neiman Marcus shopper whether it is in store, online or on a mobile device.
Drew: Is there any division between your content marketing strategy and your merchandising strategy? By that I mean, unlike in other categories, your products could be considered your content and your customers might browse your catalogs recreationally the way I might look at a travel magazine.
We’ve always felt that content was important, we invest significant time in telling the story of our products and the trends we see in the marketplace to our customers through our magazine – the Book, our emails and our blog. We continually look for additional ways to tell this story and see more opportunity in the digital space to extend through our social channels and a larger content hub. We know our customers celebrate their achievements in life with luxury purchase milestones; so continuing to educate customers on our amazing brands and their products is essential.
Drew: So many brands have started cranking out content. How do you make sure your content really stands out from the pack? Is there such a thing as too much content?
There has to be a balance. Our customers are busy and we need to make sure our content is sharply edited and always inspires and provides a value. We use our unique access to designers to provide a view inside fashion that few get to see. Additionally, with our Make Some Noise platform we are focusing content on bold women with bold voices – finding new ways to inspire our customers through these women’s contributions…
Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome?
Would love to unlock the mobile experience for our customer and drive higher conversion.