How Rue La La Designs A Consistent Shopping Experience Across Mobile, Desktop, And In-App

Leveraging a mix of data and cross-design, the e-commerce designer apparel purveyor is acquiring new users across channels in its second decade of life.

When upscale retail e-commerce site Rue La La launched in 2008, the smartphone era had barely begun, but today, a majority of the sites users visit for the first time on mobile — and they’re comfortable transacting there, too.

This evolution has meant a holistic shift in how the company thinks about acquisition and conversion — and like most retailers in 2018, Rue La La is now tasked with delivering a consistent, personalized experience across mobile, desktop, and in-app.

But in addition to tracking the shopping journey in general, the site has one distinct data advantage: As a gated website, users have to create an account with a valid email address in order to shop. And this enables Rue La La to craft personalized communications more easily — as well as to drive cross-platform engagement.

“Additionally, the products that are on the top of your page, and the recommended especially for you in the ‘MyRue tab’ — that’s all personalized based on your shopping behaviors,” regardless of channel, Christine Coffield, senior analyst, marketing at Rue La La, told GeoMarketing following a session at the MMA’s Impact NY conference. “[That means] the experience is much more likely to be relevant.”

GeoMarketing: Because you carry a diversity of brands, how do you approach search and discovery? For example, most potential new customers probably aren’t looking for “Rue La La” — they’re looking for that Tory Burch sandal. What’s your strategy for finding new users and driving signups? 

Christine Coffield: Search for us, in general, is a bit of challenge because we are a gated website.

We do use our paid access marketing as a tool to help guide users to come find us; most of our paid marketing is around getting users, either on Instagram or on Facebook — or even on Google shopping.

Additionally, if you ever search [an aggregator site, like ShopStyle] looking for Tory Burch, and we carry it, we pop up there. And then we’ll drive you to our site to shop that product.

That’s how people tend to discover us: By that paid acquisition marketing, and then we drive them to our site. In order to shop the site, they have to create an account — which is great for us, from a data perspective. And then once they’re in, we want them to see all of the other products that we have to offer, using the tools I highlighted [during the session], like the updated search feature on our home page, our app, et cetera.

You mentioned Instagram the potential for acquiring users via Instagram. Do you have an influencer marketing strategy, as that category continues to grow?

We’ve definitely tested in the past.

Feng Chang, senior director, growth marketing: Yeah. I would say it’s one of the things that we constantly evaluate. I think in terms of the spectrum of brand marketing to performance marketing, we’re definitely have leaned more heavily on performance marketing, and one of the things we believe in, is wanting to understand the ROI of our investments.

So, I would say we’re still exploring. But it’s definitely valuable.

Today, most users primarily begin their journey with Rue La La on mobile web. But after they create an account, they may visit you in your app, and across desktop and mobile web. How do you use the data that you have to create a personalized experience across channels?

Coffield: We do a lot of things with our data. We not only customize our emails to drive [users] to those different platforms, but we also have the different messaging zones that are personalized for you. So, we [customize] based on what shipping program you’re in, or credit program, or whatever types of things are going on for you in particular. Those messages are customized to you, and that’s going be consistent across platforms.

Additionally, the products that are on the top of your page, and the recommended especially for you in the “MyRue tab” — that’s all personalized based on your shopping behaviors [so that the products] are more likely to be relevant.

That’s how we’ve really been leveraging it so far; I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of taking that one step further.

What are your recommendations for other retailers — both online only and omnnichannel — for building that kind of personalization and serving each user in the best way possible?

Chang: I think this is the biggest theme: With so many platforms, where do you invest your time — your engineering teams time, too — and your resources? For us, if we don’t want our main, engaged members shopping on Rue La La, then why would we design it for them? Because instead, they’re going be shopping on the app. So, we focus the mobile/desktop web experience mostly that new user, and the app for the repeat, loyal user. For us, that’s the best allocation of our resources, and I think [that’s] an important takeaway for others as well.

Additionally, our “top five” tips and tricks from the session:

  • Design your mobile experience for your business needs
  • Encourage multiscreen behavior — and track results
  • Ensure consistent member experience across platforms
  • Develop each platform with standalone value
  • Get organizational buy-in and collaboration
About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.