Making the Most of Customer Data

Interview with Aubrie Pagano, Co-Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Bow & Drape

Author: Tricia Carr

March 13, 2017

It may have started as a Kickstarter project, but customizable clothing and accessories brand Bow & Drape has grown into a blossoming ecommerce business with a millennial following, as well as an operator of shops within department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Aubrie Pagano—Bow & Drape’s CEO, co-founder and creative director—at the Millennial 20/20 summit in New York about how the company puts the data it has on shoppers’ preferences and behaviors to work for its customers. 

eMarketer: What was the basis for Bow & Drape? Did you set out to create a brand that catered to millennials?

Aubrie Pagano: We started the brand to make customized clothing accessible for everyone. At the time, we saw customization as something that was either very high-end or just for tchotchkes. There was something missing that could be at department stores prices, but also customized.

Our core demographic is millennials, but we have a wide bell curve, especially in stores. Women in their 40s and 50s buy our clothes, and we have girls at age 12 who buy size extra-small. I think the brand has an ageless concept, but in particular, the zeitgeist of being expressive resonates with millennials.

eMarketer: How do you make the design-your-own-item experience easy and seamless across channels?

Pagano: It’s one of our priorities—and a challenge. We are actively rebuilding all of our technology so that, regardless of channel, everything is seamless. We are working on selling through Instagram and SMS to make it easy [for the customer to buy wherever they are]. The goal is to combine all of these databases into one architecture.

Our engineers are focused on making the design process as easy as possible. When someone goes online, whether that’s on desktop or mobile, we want them to have an easy navigation experience. When someone is in-store, we want to track that person’s life cycle as well. We want to merge those two channels, as well as our social channels.

“We are working on selling through Instagram and SMS to make it easy [for the customer to buy wherever they are].”

eMarketer: A lot of retailers struggle with tracking customer behaviors when they’re shopping in-store. How do you solve that problem?

Pagano: When someone customizes an item in-store, we send them an email or a text to say when their item is ready to go. We integrated technology into that experience so it’s quick and seamless, and it creates an organic way for them to give us their contact information so we can track their purchases. If someone isn’t customizing in-store and they’re just browsing, it’s so much harder to understand. It won’t be fully integrated until everybody has chips implanted in their bodies.

eMarketer: When customers design their own items, they’re letting you inside their heads and telling you their preferences. What are you doing with those customer insights?

Pagano: We do our merchandising based on data for clickthroughs and sales. We also look at social engagements as indicators for certain products. For instance, we have a goofy shirt that says “Carb Dashian” [a play on Kardashian] with a pizza patch. We put it on social media and it had such strong engagement, we moved it into our core collection. Now it’s one of our best-sellers.

We find that when we elicit feedback from customers—when we make them a part of the brand—we get the most engagement and clickthrough. The more we ask them for data, the more engaged they become. We think of it as a two-way conversation. We even have a quiz on our site: If you’re confused about what to buy, the quiz spits out recommendations based on your personal preferences.

“The more we ask [our customers] for data, the more engaged they become.”

eMarketer: Do you use these customer insights to personalize your marketing efforts as well?

Pagano: The more we can segment customers according to their preferences, the more effective it is. Bridal is a good example. About 15% of our customers are engaged [to be married]. We serve up bridal ads when we segment people through our paid social efforts. We send them to a specific page and then remarket to them based on their engagement with that page. We build marketing lists out of pages on our site where we try to cultivate audiences.

eMarketer: From your experience at Bow & Drape, what advice do you have for marketers?

Pagano: It’s becoming more important to engage with your customer in a fluid way. You have to be where she is, and a lot of channels and functions are colliding. The customer expects us to understand the 360-degree view. Your customer doesn’t care what channel she finds you on—she is going to interact with you in any way she wants on those channels. 

Photo credit: Bow & Drape