“What TiVo did for TV, we try to do for consumer marketing.” That’s how Doug Berg explains the ambition behind MyAlerts, a company he founded that changes the traditional timeline of online shopping by informing consumers when the products they want are in stock. As many retailers invest in personalization, MyAlerts gambles that the winning formula is individualization, and it seems to have paid off: clients include 35 of the top 200 retailers, including Macy’s, Best Buy, and Calvin Klein.

Below, the CEO shared with the Daily some insights gleaned from the business.

How did you come up with the idea for MyAlerts?

As an online consumer, I was constantly frustrated that most shopping sites didn’t allow me to set up “My marketing” on their sites – I could only sign up for “Their marketing.” I couldn’t set up alerts on out-of-stock products or new products that I wanted, or even save keyword searches. We built MyAlerts so that retailers could add individualized alerting to every part of their shopping sites.

How does the service benefit retailers?

Many of our larger retailers capture as much as $1 million a day in “out of stock” product alerts, and in most cases recapture $1 million to $3 million per month in alert-driven purchases.  We’ve seen that consumers will return to purchase any product 50% of the time if you can alert them within a week of them setting up the alert. Even for products that take time to re-order, we get 5% return to purchase as long as 30 weeks later.

We’ve also seen wish list engagement increase five to 10 times when we add alerting to Wish List capabilities – i.e. the retailer can turn their wish list into a “watch list”, allowing customers to get alerts on items. As many as 40% of wish list users return to the site every month.

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What kind of data can you extract about consumers as they engage with the service? What are some ways that retailers might take advantage of that data? 

When customers set alerts, retailers can gain insight into the demand for their products not only at the brand or category level, but also person-by-person.

This has been game-changing for merchandising and buying, as retailers can now see where there is pent-up demand for specific products and categories.  For example, if a retailer usually re-orders 100 units of a specific product, but sees that 1,000 customers are waiting for alerts on the product, then they will order 500 units knowing that 50% or more will return to purchase.

We can also reveal macro themes based on audience-wide activity. One of our fashion retailers started to see a majority of their customers tracking the availability of a specific dark gray color, which helped them meet that demand.

What lessons have you learned about consumer preferences that could be surprising for retailers?

If you offer the ability for customers to track price changes, rather than just price drops, you can actually get 16% return to purchase when the price of a product goes up!  That’s nearly double the response of putting products on sale 10%, or even 20%.

We’ve also learned that allowing customers to set up price alerts on your site results in nearly no decrease in same-day conversion rates.  Most online customers are “spear-fishing” when they are doing online shopping and know exactly what they want.  This means that retailers can add this type of capability without affecting sales. In fact, over time, they can nearly double revenue per customer, as shoppers receive alerts and return to purchase those “someday” products that they saw on previous site visits.

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