Next week at Oracle Modern Customer Experience 2018 in Chicago, the Markie Awards ceremony will take place, where winners in 19 categories of marketing and customer experience excellence will be announced.
We spoke with Lars Furtwaengler, VP of eCommerce & Merchandising at PureFormulas, a Markie Award finalist in the Best B2C Commerce Experience category. Here’s what we learned about Lars and the innovative work he and the health and supplement store are doing in customer experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at PureFormulas.
My name is Lars Furtwaengler and I’m a German import who spent the last 15 years in beautifully-diverse Miami, Florida.
I have worked in Hispanic media for close to a decade and enjoyed a short stint in a tech startup before joining PureFormulas in 2014. At that time the team at PureFormulas was just about to relaunch the website with Oracle Commerce solutions.
My primary mission as PureFormulas’ newly-minted VP of eCommerce & Merchandising was to deep-dive into the Oracle Commerce world and use our brand-new tool box to create a fully personalized shopping experience. I started on that mission as a one-man show but had the opportunity to build a small team around this endeavor within my first year.
Tell us a little bit about PureFormulas and the great things you’re doing in customer experience.
PureFormulas is an online-only Health & Supplement Store offering high-quality dietary supplements, organic foods, natural beauty favorites, sports nutrition essentials, pet products, and much more. PureFormulas was founded in 2007 and is based out of Miami, Florida.
We have a very loyal customer base with often very specific needs. Our extensive product catalog can at times present an overwhelming amount of product choices to our customers. It is very important to guide visitors through these product choices and allow them to understand their options and narrow them down to their personal needs.
For that reason, we have been stepping away from simple product listing pages and are consistently launching and fine-tuning interactive, educational shopping guides. We love to garnish these guides with special offers and incentives and continue to see a very positive response from our customer base.
PureFormulas is a finalist for a Markie Award in the Best B2C Commerce Experience category. Can you tell us about how you’re creating memorable B2C experiences?
Since relaunching PureFormulas.com with Oracle Commerce (ATG/Endeca) in late 2014 we have set up and continue to expand a complex set of automated personalization rules, allowing us to tailor a shopping experience to a customer’s preferences in real time. Today, any action taken on the site – a product view or an add-to-cart-action, a past purchase or product on a user’s favorite list – will trigger gender-, age- or interest-relevant content promotion and product recommendations.
In addition, we have developed interactive product finders, allowing customers to easily narrow down our product catalog to their desired product selection. Our Buy-In-Bulk and our BYOB (Build-Your-Own-Bundle) programs for thousands of products further help to incentivize our customers.
All these strategies have delivered very promising results to date – we are tracking increased conversion rates and AOV as well as above average interaction rates with the tools and content we make available to our customers.
What new CX technologies and innovations excite you?
We always look for solutions that help us streamline the customer experience; tools that allow us to eliminate any unnecessary steps a user has to take on our site. Given I only have a small team, I need to rely on algorithms to solve some of our challenges in surfacing relevant and/or related products in any context.
Also, we have been hearing a lot about voice-controlled ecommerce lately and I would personally like to get smarter about that, see who is doing it right and how.
I look forward to getting inspired and leaving Chicago full of new ideas and contacts!
What are you and your team looking forward to at ModernCX this year?
I look forward to maximizing my time spent at the conference, listening to the keynote speakers and checking out what is new and gaining traction in the world of ecommerce.
Apart from that, I am personally excited to meet up with some fellow Oracle Commerce customers. We use these events as an opportunity to meet up, catch up, and exchange ideas and best practices.
And last but not least, we are absolutely thrilled to be among the Markie’s B2C category finalists so we obviously have our eyes set on the award ceremony as well.
What advice would you give to future CX leaders who are looking to pursue a role like yours?
Data is your friend. Listen to your customers and learn from them. Every day. Test frequently and don’t be afraid to toss an idea that doesn’t work even though it looks great or sounded great when brainstorming it internally. I think this is one of the most valuable lessons I took away from my prior role as VP of Product at a small tech startup company.
The beauty of a company like PureFormulas is that there is very little red tape to try out a new approach, feature or tool. We are still a relatively small team, which makes us efficient in getting a product prototype launched. We are open to and smart about taking calculated risks. Many times an idea for a new feature, tool or approach will pop into my head while I’m stuck in painful rush-hour Miami traffic … and often, I get to launch a prototype of such an idea on the site just a few days later.
Another important lesson I took away from my startup adventure – “perfect doesn’t ship” – meaning we always strive to launch high-quality tools and services, but we avoid a “feature-overload” for the first iteration of an idea to test response and impact.
This approach has always served me well in my career and I believe has contributed to having PureFormulas recognized as a finalist in this year’s Markie Awards in the Best B2C Commerce Experience category.