How Boxed is Building a New and User-Centric Commerce Experience
Boxed is the digitally native buy-in-bulk retailer with mobile ordering, speedy delivery, and great savings. You may have noticed them in recent headlines where a funding round of $111 Million led by the Walmart of Japan, Aeon Co. was announced!
Boxed has taken the best elements of the wholesale shopping experience and folded them into one innovative, cutting edge mobile app that allows consumers direct-to-their-door access to all of their favorite warehouse club products, without membership fees.
Boxed has long been a great partner of Button, and we’re always excited to catch up with Boxed Chief Marketing Officer, Jackson Jeyanayagam. Recently, we interviewed Jackson to learn about the latest innovations at Boxed ahead of TAP 2018 where he’ll be speaking on October 4th!
Question: Boxed has built a powerful brand from the company’s public stance against the pink tax to its highly regarded company culture. What has been the biggest learning in running such a well-received brand?
Jackson: I think it’s that consumers really do make decisions, at least in-part, because of brand relativity. Of course no one will pay 50% more for something just because they believe in the company’s values but when the price difference is minimal — or equal — it’s an easy decision for many people in this day and age of retail options. Aligning with principles and values that are authentic to us and relevant to our employees and customers has become a core focus for all of our marketing efforts…and always will be.
Question: When evaluating the Boxed acquisition channels, what have been the key metrics for measuring success? What has worked well? What has been a challenge?
Jackson: As with any ecomm start-up, the most important factors are efficiency and quality customers. I don’t mind sacrificing a little efficiency if it means acquiring higher quality customers (especially over time)…but there is a limit to that a well. So it’s all about balancing the predictive LTV with CPA. We have found great success with mobile publishers; direct mail and of course, Google. The challenges have been trying to scale without relying too heavily on Facebook and Google. Especially given recent changes to the FB platform, it’s even more critical that we can find alternative platforms to efficiently acquire high value customers.
Question: The news section of the Boxed app is a unique feature when comparing to other apps in the space. What’s the strategy behind it?
Jackson: When I first started, I remember our CTO and COO telling me about this feature and to be honest — initially, I didn’t get it. But as they explained the background behind it, it begin to make a lot of sense. Because we are built on a curated assortment, we constantly onboard new products and categories and as we have learned more about our customers, we saw that they love discovering new products. So rather than just relying on email and push the newsfeed was born to give a reminder to anyone shopping on the site/app that there are new products or promotions available. It was built with the mindset of combining a commerce experience with a publisher mindset.
Question: What role does personalization play in the Boxed marketing strategy? What plans do you have to evolve this approach?
Jackson: It’s everything. It’s a big focus for our leadership and, in particular, our CTO and his team. We know that this is one of the biggest differentiators in our service when compared to the very saturated industry. But personalization can take on many forms. For us, it ranges from human touch to technology to surprise & delights. For instance, we include handwritten notes in each box but also have a ‘smart stockup’ algorithm that predicts when you will run out of something and offers an easier way to reorder it; or #whattheboxed, which regularly surprises customers with very specific rewards such as a Nintendo Switch for customers who ordered Super Mario Bros cereal.
Question: The retail industry is constantly evolving — what trend do you envision having the most momentum over the next year and how does Boxed plan to capitalize on this?
Jackson: One thing we talk a lot about is reinventing what loyalty means. How do retailers, online or physical, reward their best customers without cannibalizing future sales? I believe this will be an exciting evolution that will only benefit the customer (as it should be). Finding new and creative ways to engage and keep your customers happy and feeling valued will be a critical strategy for all retailers to tackle. We feel that we have a good initial answer to that question with Boxed Up but we are constantly assessing and improving upon it based on customer feedback.
Question: Have any specific in-app features been especially effective for engagement and repeat purchases? How has the roll out of Boxed Up been received?
Jackson: I think smart stockup is one of our more exciting features. While it’s not specific to mobile, we do see a lot of engagement from customers on the mobile app. Allowing our customers to spend less time on the app and more time with the more important things in life is a key benefit of smart stockup. When you think about buying toilet paper, paper towels and cereal, it should actually be the thing you think about least. So we are excited about how this gets offered up within the app for returning customers and how we continue to refine it, to improve the experience and make it even more accurate. Boxed Up is another example of how we obsess over ensuring our existing customers are provided a top notch experience. This paid loyalty program allows us to get more creative with how we reward our customers — from cash back to surprise & delight perks to shorter shipping windows and a lower minimum shipping cost. While it’s early into the program, we are confident it will continue to gain traction and keep our customers feeling rewarded for shopping with Boxed.
Question: What are you most excited for at TAP 2018?
Jackson: I think TAP is a wonderful environment to learn from the best of the best in mobile. The industry moves so fast, so it’s great to have events like this where I can learn from others who have been seeing success (or failure) with new channels.