Machine learning boosted e-commerce pet food sales

I and love and you's strategic use of the Nosto commerce experience platform, coupled with customer segmentation and personalized recommendations, has improved their sales and customer engagement metrics.

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Andrea Gantz

I and love and you, a pet food brand based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, enhanced customer engagement and boosted sales online by implementing the Nosto commerce experience platform to tailor online shopping experiences for different customer segments.

At Nosto, our platform uses customers’ behavioral and transactional data to personalize online shopping experiences for brands like I and love and you,” a company representative told Petfood Industry. “Underpinned by machine learning technology, it can personalize every aspect of the experience from displaying tailored product recommendations and site-search results to dynamically customizing content and images to each shopper’s preferences so that their entire onsite shopping journey is unique and relevant.”

I and love and you’s primary focus was on using Nosto to tailor content and recommendations shown to specific customer segments with the aim of increasing repeat purchases of its cat and dog food. The company witnessed a substantial 44% increase in repeat purchases of dog food and a 35% increase in repeat purchases of cat food. 

“Through Nosto, I and love and you learned that returning customers often buy the same product,” the representative said. “Typically, these customers would go to the on-site menu and navigate to find the product they had purchased previously. I and love and you wanted to nurture this repurchasing behavior and increase customer lifetime value by making it as easy as possible for those customers to make repeat purchases. So, depending on whether someone was a new visitor, or if they had shopped at I and love and you before, Nosto was set up to deliver a different home page experience.

“Specifically, when returning customers are identified on-site, Nosto’s replenishment algorithm estimates whether enough time has passed for those customers to be ready to re-order their previous purchases. In this case, as soon as the shopper hits the store’s menu, they are shown a prominent product recommendation with a hero image of the product they had previously purchased, along with a prompt to ‘buy again.’ Clicking on this takes them directly to the appropriate product page from where they can quickly complete their purchase.

“This way, customers no longer have to devote time to navigating the menu to find the product they want to re-order—they’re shown it immediately, making for a smoother, easier experience.”

Facilitating pet food sales online

1. Segmentation of Customers

   - I and love and you started by categorizing their website visitors into three key groups: returning customers, loyal customers, and first-time customers.

“Nosto analyzes both transactional histories and online browsing behavior in real-time to understand buying intent and the customer lifecycle,” the representative said. “With these insights, it can automatically group visitors into target segments, or allow stores to create their own custom segments that can be used to deliver personalized experiences. For example, Nosto can automatically create segments based on customer lifecycle stage, brand affinity, category affinity, traffic source, device type, and more.

"I and love and you’s strategy was to use Nosto to segment visitors according to the lifecycle stages of returning, loyal and first-time customers. First-time customers are those who have not purchased already, returning customers are those who have made 1 previous purchase, and loyal customers are those whohave made 3+ purchases before."

2. Returning and Loyal Customers

   - For returning and loyal customers, Nosto's replenishment algorithm determined if it was the right time for them to reorder their previous purchases.

   - When these customers visited the website, they were presented with a hero image of the product they had previously bought, along with a "buy again" prompt.

   - This seamless experience led to a significant 44% increase in dog food replenishment purchases and a 35% increase in cat food replenishment purchases.

   - Mobile visitors also benefited, with a 332% increase in the add-to-cart rate for cat food and a reduction to 0 abandoned carts for dog food on mobile platforms.

“For returning and loyal customers, the main aim of personalization was driving repeat purchases by showing them a product recommendation of their previous purchase - enabling them to repeat purchase quickly and easily,” the representative said. “Customers can click on the recommendation and go straight to the product page to quickly add-to-cart and place their order. To tailor the experience further for loyal and returning customers, I and love and you used Nosto to display ‘Other people were also interested in’ product recommendations when they land on the product page, encouraging upsells. These recommendations were based on Nosto’s analysis of the purchase behavior of similar shoppers.”

3. Segment Growth and Increased Visit Value

   - The segmentation strategy and improved online experience resulted in the doubling in size of the brand's loyal customer segment.

   - Additionally, there was a notable 24% increase in visit value from these loyal customers.

4. New Customers

   - Nosto employed a personalized approach for new customers, offering best-seller product recommendations based on their browsing behavior.

   - If a customer showed an interest in dog food, they were shown the top-selling dog food products, and the same applied to cat food.

   - This approach led to a 17% increase in e-commerce purchases from new customers and boosted the sales conversion rate by 9% for best-selling dog food and 12% for best-selling cat food.

For the first-time customers segment, I and love and you set up Nosto to display best-seller product recommendations based on those customers’ browsing behavior when they came on site, to help inspire them. If their behavior suggests an affinity to dog food, they are shown recommendations showcasing the best-selling dog food products. If it’s cat food, however, they’re shown best-selling cat food items. Enhancing the experience in this way had a significant positive impact, producing a 17% increase in purchases from this first-time customers segment. It also contributed to a 9% increase in the sales conversion rate for the best-selling dog food and a 12% increase in sales conversion rate for the best-selling cat food."

5. Tailoring Content

   - I and love and you also experimented with tailoring content to specific customer segments.

   - They customized the home page hero image for customers with a dog or cat affinity, displaying a relevant image based on their previous purchases or preferences.

I and love and you's strategic use of the Nosto commerce experience platform, coupled with customer segmentation and personalized recommendations, has improved their sales and customer engagement metrics. These results demonstrate the power of tailoring the online shopping experience to distinct customer segments within the pet food industry.

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