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From its very start in 1998, Canadian athletic apparel retailer Lululemon was a store born from the business of yoga and a desire to serve as a community hub for those loving yoga and healthy living.

Now, 19 years later, it’s embracing innovative digital technology to foster its longtime consumer relationship-centric focus and deliver product, a consumer culture and the unique customer experience Lululemon fans expect.

A big key of its digital strategy is data — specifically data intelligence — and the strategy is paying off as the Vancouver, British Columbia retailer grew as much in the past five years as it has had in over the last two decades.

“Human relationship is at the core of who we are. It’s never been only about physical products but always about creating a community hub as the core foundation,” said Miguel Almeida, EVP, digital, at Lululemon.

The retailer is just as obsessed with fostering its store associate-consumer relationships and engaging with its consumer community, Almeida shared in a session at the National Retail Federation’s “The Big Show,” on Jan. 17, the third day of the three-day annual event held at the Javits Convention Center in New York.

Lululemon has also set another big goal: to touch 1 billion people.

To make it all happen it began working with AgilOne, a CRM and data intelligence company, just about a year ago, to gain agility, scalability and intelligence.

AgilOne’s technology integrates customer data from every digital and physical channel, and analyzes that data to provide a clear view of the customer. The vendor’s Customer Data and Engagement Hub, which is being used by more than 150 brands worldwide, features 100 pre-built connects and APIs and an advanced library of self-learning predictive algorithms. It provides insight on everything related to customer behavior, from transactions to social media, to what customers are likely to buy and allows a brand to personalize the customer experience.

“It [data intelligence] was once a shovel and now it’s an excavator,” said AgilOne CEO Omer Artun, during the session talk, noting machine learning technology is now in play with data analysis.

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Lululemon’s first step was developing a CRM engine with AgilOne to help Lululemon better know a guest and better engage with guests.

The focus, said Almeida, is to deliver a highly personalized one-on-one experience.

“Once you have scientific knowledge you can then provide the personalized experience, ultimately looking for relevance by integrating all the intelligence,” he said, adding it’s about “showing the right content to the right audience in the right channel.

“At the end of the day it’s not just about sales, it’s about engagement. It’s critical for us. If we are strong on engagement sales happen naturally,” he said.

The data analysis involves everything from online customer feedback to comments on product pages and to customer insight via calls to a call center. Almeida noted customers who engage on all the brand’s channels tend to have a 10 percent higher spend.

The investment and focus on data is paying off as Lululemon is already seeing web site visits jumping 50 percent and a 25 percent boost in guest participation at local events in stores.

“Power of engagement is when you have this intelligence and respect that intelligence,” said Almeida, adding, “it’s about leveraging tech and driving the human connection.”

Going forward Lululemon is focusing on its mobile web and app strategies and already making strides. Just six months ago its website was not optimized for mobile and not very seamless, noted Almeida, and the app, well the app was simply a shopping app.

Now the app is playing a starring role in serving as the ‘connector’ of all customer and guest engagement, he added.

“It’s been a journey for us, very powerful and very rewarding. The technology is helping us accelerate what we are about and what we stand for,” said Almeida.

“We want to be where our customers are, we want to bring social interaction into the digital experience with our platform across all devices. If you create genuine authentic engagement and help customers in their journey there is no limit to growth.”

Posted with permission from www.RetailCustomerExperience.com
Photo source: Lululemon (http://info.lululemon.com/content/shop/en/about/media/jcr:content/par/twouppromo_2/tile2.img.520.high.jpg/Melrose)

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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