Content Amplification Engine Findmine CEO speaks frankly about Personalization, Marketing and how to amp up sales across the entire assortment.

Russo: Hey everyone. Welcome Michelle Bacharach CEO of Findmine, So tell me about Findmine and what’s going on right now?

Bacharach: One of the reasons I started this business was that I believe personalization can literally bankrupt businesses.

Russo: Wow!!

Bacharach: There’s so much risk in just doing the personalization , and losing your brand’s editorial vision. There’s what’s right for the customer. What’s right for the brand. And this magic intersection is this tiny slice in the middle that without Findmine AND a personalization solution, you’re never gonna find it.

Russo: Personalization has been a huge topic. And I think universally agreed upon as a very important aspect to having a digital business. What you’re saying is guys, guess what…that doesn’t work the way it should, without this other part . It actually doesn’t function without the curatorial side of it, which is Findmine.

Bacharach: I think personalization can be so dangerous if taken to an extreme .There’s hidden trap doors that will catch you in this endless cycle of reducing your price, which will lead to your ultimate death. You’re never gonna win and your brand dies. Our first input is: what does the brand believe? What is that differentiation? Keep that sacrosanct. We’re never going to let the consumer go off base and lose touch with what makes the brand different, because it is so dangerous for the brand.

Russo: Very interesting. So, okay. Not to spend too much time on what you don’t do, but I think it’s really important because brands and retailers are overwhelmed by all of the options and choices.

Bacharach: The other thing that I see happening all the time is like brands have invested, or retailers have invested millions of dollars in a customer data platform, which I would put in a personalization category. And you have like unique customer segments across a hundred thousand segments. And you could do one one-to-one storytelling with each, which is amazing. Getting there in and of itself is a huge challenge, but then you get there. And then you’re like, okay, marketing, let’s get, you know, a hundred thousand different messages out to these people. And marketing’s like, no, no. Here’s five pieces of creative that our team has approved that we feel good about respecting the brand appropriately. So now you don’t have a hundred thousand segments, you have five segments and all of that work and all that money and investment, you just let it on fire because you didn’t think about the content volume that’s required to support that level of storytelling and still meet your brand guidelines.

Russo: Are you able to do one on one message with Findmine?

Bacharach: Yeah, because what Findmine does is we’re a content engine. We amplify the amount of editorial and inspirational content that’s available sometimes by 10,000 X, so if we can take that little nugget of, you know, five assets that your marketing team feels great about and splice it and dice it and make it into a whole bunch of different flavors and varieties that are still on brand. (Cuz again, that’s the most important thing,) but are different enough and dynamic enough to be appropriate for different people — we can make that variety happen. So that then you get a one-to-one story that’s possible without running your marketing team into the ground.

Russo: If you remember in math, when there would be a sequence of numbers and there was an exclamation point at the end, which meant multiply the multiply the. I feel like that is what you do with yeah.

Instead of numbers, there’s assets. And so you’re doing that math to end up with the ultimate end quantity. Mm-hmm, , it’s almost an endless now, but really it’s based on how many you start with, but then you apply that same kind of methodology of putting an exclamation point to then end up with that many iterations.

Bacharach: Exactly. Quite literally, we’re making permutations and combinations that turn into different assets and inspirational content, which it is a factorial.

It is that exploration my exclamation point at the end of, and the really long string of.

Russo: Look at us getting so smart.

Bacharach: What we do for brands is we help them scale out their editorial vision.

Russo: Scale out their editorial vision. What does that mean?

Bacharach: Yeah. Well, great question. That is the only differentiator that exists in a very competitive world where you can buy most of the same stuff on Amazon and Amazon definitely doesn’t have editorial vision. So everybody else’s opportunity is having a really great editorial vision. It’s really hard to scale.

Russo: When I go on your website you talk about the brand point of view, brand POV, pause there. Now I hear you say scaling editorial assets.

So now I understand from being in brick and mortar, that that really means what are you feeling when you walk into a space? What is that? You know, a blue shirt is a blue shirt is a blue shirt as you’re alluding to wherever it’s from. But what does that feel like when it’s been curated onto the mannequin or set next to another shirt? That lines way up to the actual corporate office design teams, creative director, and what their point of view is.

Bacharach: Yeah, exactly. What Findmine does is we make that happen more often. We make that feeling happen more often for the consumer in a way that doesn’t take merchants or marketers, hundreds of hours to manually put together a beautifully curated story and email.

Russo: One of the ways to also look at it is amortizing the effort that it takes to create the creative. It’s so much effort. There are teams, there are hours, there are outside people and contractors to do it. And you get X amount of nibbles at it — how much marketing can you ACTUALLY do with it? How many times can it be on a landing page? With Findmine, retailers and brands can get so many more bites of the apple. You basically expand the creative and the editorial?

Bacharach: Exactly. We expand it and we also don’t let it dial on the vine. the rate of change in retail is so high.

You could put all this effort into like doing this beautiful photo shoot, but then two thirds of the products in the photo shoot. By the time all those assets are live, two thirds of the products that we’re using in the photo shoot are not available for sale. And now what are you inspiring the customer to do, right? So what I, what I hate to see happen is these poor merchants spending 40 hours to curate this beautiful landing page. And then some products start selling out. and then those all disappear or dead links, where are you redirecting them to get that same feeling? That same goal accomplished when those products are not available? So we actually help with that as well. We can help the customer land in a place that has all available products, but achieve the same goal

Russo: What you bring in is a dynamic in real-time reactivity to whatever’s happening with inventory, or let’s say a particular product gets a huge bump from an influencer for whatever reason. And it goes viral. You are able to react to that because they’ve got your technology. So how does it happen? What’s what do you, what are you actually doing in order for this to happen?

Bacharach: Our system is cross-referencing all these different data points to know what is the right product set that should go on this story, for example, once our system is onboarded, it takes about two weeks to do that. We can give these assets anywhere in the organization that they need to live. So we can power those landing pages.

We can be in the email campaigns, we can feed to human personal shoppers. Here’s some content you should suggest the customer. And we save those people 90% of their time. So it doesn’t always have to be directly to the consumer. There can be a human intermediary, but when there’s human intermediary, we make that human 90% more effective. We give them so much of their time back because we do the heavy lifting.

Russo: Brands have a real control issue, not an issue it’s control because a brand by definition is.

Something that’s controlled by the creators. So that has slowed adoption to a lot of automation because brands and retailers think, at the heart of it is, ‘eh, I don’t know. Do I trust outside of my process?’ which is 100% human based with a managerial system. A hierarchy and approval process, et cetera. Right. How do you combat that and convince brands that when they use Findmine, there can have a comfort level that everything’s approved creatively and that the end results will meet the brand standards. Talk about that.

Bacharach: So like control’s not a bad thing. That is the differentiator between Nike and this, if you didn’t so tightly control it, those two companies would look a lot more similar. So you want to have the high quality that meet that bar, quality is actually higher when you introduce some level of algorithmic support to make sure that those things that are really important to you are respected.

The best software recognizes, Hey, people might not be comfortable with full automation from the get go, so don’t make them start there, right? Maybe don’t ever make them try to get there in the first place.

Maybe that’s not the end goal, but what can you do to remove friction in the process that does fit with their philosophical belief about what needs to be done to maintain and respect the brand.

Gartner has this theme of trends for retail and the number one was merchandising and marketing playing team ball. We are the connective tissue between those two things.

Marketing assets are not dynamic by definition, but merchandising is super dynamic by definition. They’re almost working at cross purposes, not even on purpose. But just because one is on one time cycle and another is on this other time cycle.

Russo: One would think that those are normally very fluid departments but as you just said, they’re very different from a timing standpoint. So I love he repeat in this discussion of time, time is such a huge element in retail, and it is not talked about enough.

Bacharach: The rate of change is the time variable that is killing them because they have 5,000 products that are going in and out of stock and selling at various proportions and are against plan or at plan or behind plan and in different places and in different parts of the country and the world. That’s a lot of change and rate of change — it is just insane.

Russo: Is it automated at this point?

Bacharach: If you’re talking about a ‘Sort’ page, yes, for sure, but none of it is connected to the assets that marketing produced at time zero. And that’s the big disconnect, right?

Brands and retailers should be able to give merchandising a lever. That’s not put this at the top of the pants page or mark the pants down as there ways to improve the sell through of pants . Elevated editorial treatment gets the customer over that hump. So all of your automation tools that can push individual product, don’t help you in that squishy situation where the product’s not performing well, but it’s not actually a dog. That’s where you need elevated treatment of those products that marketing just doesn’t have the resources to help you on.

And that’s where we come in everyone spends so much time in retail on the top 10 or 20% of the products. And the long tail just gets absolutely ignored. And that is the source of all the inventory challenges is that there’s just not enough time to focus on the long tail.

So everyone has to prioritize the head. That’s why you see a lot of the personalization software. They just double down on what’s performing well. So they jack up your revenue, which is great, but it’s at the expense of the long tail. So software, like Findmine has recognized that challenge and said, get more revenue, prioritize top performers but don’t do it at the detriment of long tail. We also solve all these other problems, like clearing out excess inventory, saving gross margin.

Russo: Because once you inspire the customer with the brand point view, it’s more likely to move in and of itself, but also probably get some add-on sales.

Bacharach: yeah, it’s what you said at the beginning where it’s like the Russo math of how much, where am I gonna get out of this product? If I can wear it a lot, the ROI has gone up on it. So now maybe it’s worth paying full price before. So if you can show a pair of jeans in five different outfits styled up styled down, with stuff you already own, you’ve broken that doubt in the customer’s mind that like, Ooh, I love this product and you stop them from talking themselves out of the purchase.

Russo: You’re saying you can squeeze out more full price or lower markdown transactions for product because seeing it in different ways and being inspired rather than doubtful is what you do.

Bacharach: Yes, absolutely. We have saved brands and retailers on average 20 basis points per campaign that run through our system and gross margin that we’re saving you because you’re not marking products off. And you have a glut of inventory in a particular product category. We’ve been able to clear those out and empty warehouses.

Literally, Findmine has been directly responsible for emptying a warehouse that had way too many of a particular pair of shoes.

It’s not like true that if it doesn’t click right away, it’s a dog. Why would you invest in something you think is a dog? You would never do that — it’s a bad use of reallocating resources. But if you have software that can do that, the marginal cost is small.

Russo: I’m having those aha moments. Those like jaw-dropping moments. I, I had the very first time that we spoke and been a long time and my, and just, you know, it’s my enthusiasm and the, the scope of what you do- it’s so needed. I really enjoyed this and so excited to hear all the new things going on and in response to you listening or Findmine, listening to the, to the market and continuing to evolve, to meet brands and retailer’s needs.

So thank you, Michelle.

Bacharach: Yeah. Thank you. This was really fun.

Published by Christine Russo, RCCA

Christine Russo is a Top 100 Retail Influencer and a respected resource for data and technology applications to grow your retail revenue.

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