Success stories
March 23, 2022

METRO Marketing Automation: 20% of E-commerce Revenue Through Direct channels, One Customer in Three Roles, Promotion Processing

  • GoalsUnify offline and online customer data
  • Increase online sales
  • Speed up order processing with promo codes and reduce the number of occurring errors
  • SolutionsStore customer data in CDP
  • Launch communications via channels such as email, mobile and web push notifications, SMS, and pop-ups
  • Transfer all orders, including promotional ones, to CDP loyalty program processing
  • ResultsThe share of revenue from CRM communications in total e-commerce revenue increased from 11% to 20%
  • The share of bulk mailings (email channel) revenue in the total revenue of CRM communication amounted to 80%
  • Successful launch of 200 promotions with promo codes
  • ParticipantsMETRO team: Head of e-commerce Division, CRM communications project Manager, Head of Digital Product Development Department, CRM marketer. Mindbox Manager
  • Term1 year 9 months
  • ITSelf-written METRO delivery website, mobile application, SberMarket delivery website, marketing automation platform
  • Business size93 Metro Cash & Carry shopping centers in Russia, 5 million customers in the database

METRO Cash & Carry is a chain of shopping centers. We offer a selection of 20 thousand items of food and non-food products for sale. 2020 Revenue amounted to 214 billion rubles

Evgeny Mishchenko

Evgeny Mishchenko, Head of the e-commerce division of METRO Cash & Carry, Russia

What stands METRO apart from regular e-commerce is that customers don’t buy items just for personal use. Many customers take on several roles simultaneously, buying items both for their business (restaurants or stores) and for personal use. Some customers even purchase various items for different businesses.

How can we process customer data and build personal communications in such conditions? How can we avoid spamming customers, but at the same time take into account their interests in each of these roles?

We’ve put together our results and solutions in this detailed business story. Take a deeper look at this case through the magnifying glass of our expertise to see our victories and failures, real figures, examples of communications together with screenshots, which are all sure to inspire you.

Feedback

By integrating the platform, we have managed to:

  • store the online customer database on the platform (not in the admin area of our website);
  • segment customers;
  • track relationship history with online customers, see sales, and communicate with customers;
  • configure mailing chains in several channels and trigger mailings (abandoned cart and browsing, reactivation).

Our quick launch time is definitely one of our biggest achievements. We’ve managed to integrate the platform in just two months. At the same time, the Mindbox team’s high-quality work ensured the project got off the ground.

The platform makes life easier for us. It takes the load off marketers since it’s easy to create and send emails and segment customers. It also generates additional profit. The only thing is we don’t have any information about the ROI yet.

Evgeny Mishchenko

Evgeny Mishchenko, Head of the e-commerce division of METRO Cash & Carry, Russia

The platform makes our life easier and generates additional profit

Marketing Automation Results

11 → 20 %
Increase in the share of revenue from CRM communications in the total revenue of e-commerce
80 %
Share of bulk mailing (email channel) revenue in the total revenue of CRM communications
200
Promotions with promo codes have already been launched

CRM communications include email, mobile and web push notifications, as well as SMS. In terms of revenue, the email channel takes first place, followed by mobile push notifications. Data from METRO’s internal reporting, gathered using Last Click Attribution

Feedback

About the results. The bulk of CRM communications revenue is generated by the email channel, although it doesn’t always reach the planned targets.

We occasionally face difficulties in assessing which of the channels brings in more revenue. For example, a customer received a mobile push notification with an offer of “up to 50% discount” and ignored it, as it wasn’t convenient for them to visit the website. Later, the customer receives an email with the same offer. The customer already knows that this is a good deal. They open the email and proceed to make a purchase. In this situation, the mobile push notification worked, but we can’t say for sure as there is no direct conversion from push notification to purchase.

As a result, maintaining a continual presence in all channels provides us with the ability to communicate with customers in a nonintrusive way (i.e., without spamming).

About the platform. I truly believe that we are able to solve 100% of our tasks with the help of the platform.

The platform has not only met all our expectations, but surpassed them. At the same time, we are still exploring the platform’s potential, functionality and capabilities, including how to adapt its functions to our tasks.

That being said, we do have one difficulty — usability. Not everyone will be able to work with Mindbox. In our team, only two marketers actually know how to use the platform, as well as specialists from an external agency. Therefore, the involvement, expertise and support of our personal manager, Maria, played a vital role. She trained us, dealt with issues that came up, and launched basic communications. By doing this we were able to use Mindbox efficiently.

Ruslan Khalimov

Ruslan Khalimov, Project Manager of CRM communications of METRO Cash & Carry

The bulk of the revenue from CRM communications is generated by the email channel

Audience and online store features

Audience. In METRO, one customer may have several different roles simultaneously: purchasing items for business (restaurants and stores) and for their own personal use. Some customers make purchases for several companies at once.

The customer might use a separate card for each role. On top of this, they can link separate phone numbers and emails to each account, making sure they receive relevant messages for each role. This means one METRO customer can have several identifiers in the form of a card, an email, and a phone number.

Online store. Our partner SberMarket (an online grocery delivery service), is responsible for order assembly and delivery for METRO. The online store is available on two websites: SberMarket’s website and METRO’s own delivery website. In order to communicate with all customers in a uniform way, we launched mailings for both websites.

Now the store is moving toward a single showcase on its delivery website.

Why we automated marketing

When we launched e-commerce, we needed an IT system that would allow us to store online and offline customer data in a single repository and use that data to communicate. The mailing services that METRO previously used would not have been able to cope with this because:

  • These services stored customer accounts only using guest cards (if customers buy for themselves) and a customer card (if customers buy for a business). With the development of online sales, the card has become optional. Now visiting the website or downloading the app is all it takes to start shopping.
  • Sales information was stored in the admin area of the website. This information had to be uploaded to the mail exploder in order to send mailings to online customers. This required additional resources — namely the marketer’s time for uploading, and the analyst’s time for segmentation.

In addition to launching communications, METRO wanted to:

  • Understand the roles of each customer, the types of items they buy for themselves, and if they’re buying for a business, the segment they belong to: a fast food café or a fine dining restaurant, a small convenience store or a large grocery chain.
  • Analyze customer behavior, i.e., whether there are any coincidences between business and personal purchases.
  • Based on behavioral information, send mailings to each customer in a way that suits them best. For example, mailings regarding café purchases can be sent to one email, store purchases to a second email, and personal purchases by SMS. This should also be sent at a comfortable frequency and time — i.e., not multiple times within a single day.

Opinion

We didn’t set specific goals at that time. It was clear to us that we needed to launch mailings because if we didn’t launch them, customers wouldn’t return.

It became clear that we needed to make product recommendations on the website and in emails as a sure way to increase sales. Our main goal was to first implement the platform and then optimize it.

Evgeny Mishchenko

Evgeny Mishchenko, Head of the e-commerce division of METRO Cash & Carry, Russia

How we chose the automation platform

The head of the e-commerce division, the marketing director of the brand, the head of the CRM department, the head of the IT department and the bid team were responsible for choosing the platform. These were the key criteria:

  • the platform combines data from offline and online into a unified customer profile;
  • the platform makes it possible to send email, SMS, Viber messages, mobile and web push notifications, configure pop-ups and personal recommendations all from a single window.

Opinion

We looked into a lot of systems. In addition to functionality, the possibility to start working with them right away and price were important criteria for us. We found that a lot of systems required a long preparation period before launching as well as being too expensive to run, so we had doubts as to their viability.

We chose Mindbox based on its fast launch settings and functionality that met our expectations and had some additional useful features. On top of that, Mindbox’s customer support was an extra bonus. Although it doesn’t mean that they configured everything for us, a part of the settings needed to be sorted on our side. In addition to assistance (the knowledge hub about the platform’s functionality), there are people who can troubleshoot any issues.

What’s important to note is that the platform has included all these functions for a long time. These solutions have been perfected unlike the solutions of multiple competitors who have only recently launched a CDP functionality.

Evgeny Mishchenko

Evgeny Mishchenko, Head of the e-commerce division of METRO Cash & Carry, Russia

The launch speed and price were important criteria

Where the platform fell short

Opinion

Honestly, I would say the main shortcoming is the unified customer profile.

I understand the complexity and significance of this challenge. When we discuss how online customer data should be stored on the platform, we keep coming across certain difficulties as we can’t implement it comprehensively. This task most likely needs to be solved in a different way. We may have to get rid of some data and focus on the most significant areas.

When it comes to communications, we haven’t run into any restrictions and are able to implement everything we have planned.

Evgeny Mishchenko

Evgeny Mishchenko, Head of the e-commerce division of METRO Cash & Carry, Russia

We communicate with online customers through the platform and with offline customers through the internal mail exploder. We’ve taken this approach as Mindbox is only capable of storing one phone number, one email address and several cards, while a METRO customer has several phone numbers, email addresses and cards. As a result, our communications work like this:

Customer Communication Scheme

Customer Communication Scheme

Opinion

The essence of a unified customer profile provided by Mindbox is to combine all data (purchase history, communications, actions on the website, and the customer’s personal data) into a single profile. This makes it possible to segment and personalize customer marketing more precisely.

METRO’s customer data storage model doesn’t follow the usual trend as it requires combining B2B and B2C customer data. The company aims to communicate separately with each customer cardholder who has their own email and phone number, but limit the number of communications (for example, no more than five per week), including communications for one customer with multiple emails and phone numbers.

Mindbox really doesn’t support such scenarios and doesn’t plan to in the near future.

Ilya Tsyrulnikov

Ilya Tsyrulnikov, product owner CDP

Communications via email, on the website, and in the app

First of all, the platform was integrated with SberMarket’s delivery website. The platform launched the most conversion trigger mailings: abandoned browse and abandoned cart. When we developed our own delivery website, we integrated the platform and set up mailings for its visitors. A full-time marketer now launches all bulk mailings, while the agency launches trigger notifications.

We have developed a communication map with the main scenarios for email, mobile and web push notifications, SMS and pop-ups. And we’ve launched the following automated notifications:

  • welcome message via email, mobile and web push notifications;
  • first order incentives;
  • abandoned browse and abandoned cart notifications via email and mobile push notifications;
  • offers when visiting the shopping center;
  • “item back in stock” notification;
  • repeat order incentives;
  • promotion of individual categories such as child care, pet items, auxiliaries for cars, vegetables, meat and fish;
  • birthday chain notification;
  • reactivation notifications via email and mobile push notifications.

Fragment of our communications map:

Fragment of our communications map

Communication map fragment: reactivation chain for the churn segment, i.e., customers who didn’t order for a year, but had ordered previously.

There is a limitation, however. Promo codes can’t be sent via mobile push notifications as the customer won’t be able to copy them. The mobile push notification requires the customer to look for the promo code in the relevant email.

Feedback

About the results. The mailings via the email channel that attract the most revenue are welcome chains, abandoned cart mailings, birthday mailings, repeat order and RFM triggers.

About the platform. Mindbox has the advantage of giving the marketer the opportunity to configure the necessary filters themselves. This means there’s no need to rely on an analyst to select the base according to the criteria. This gives the marketer freedom by granting them more time and broader creative potential.

An added bonus is the support center, which works promptly and efficiently. We also have our personal manager, Maria, to whom we are grateful for helping us get to grips with the platform. On this front, I can say I am very happy with Mindbox.

For someone who has not worked with the platform before, it may feel very unfamiliar. However, as soon as you start to understand the platform, you end up falling in love with it.

Fatima Kolmychenko

Fatima Kolmychenko, CRM Marketer of METRO Cash & Carry

As soon as you start to understand the platform, you end up falling in love with it.

Feedback

The email channel is a separate source of traffic for us, and it has a separate plan for orders, conversions, and traffic. Although, we’re not talking about the efficiency of the platform itself and mailings via the email channel. We look at this channel as a whole, which gives us the traffic that we projected. Moreover, we put together predictions based on indicators such as the number of subscribers in the database, the target open rate, and historical data.

Evgeny Mishchenko

Evgeny Mishchenko, Head of the e-commerce division of METRO Cash & Carry, Russia

RFM-email with a discount promo code, sent every 90 days
RFM-email with recently purchased items, sent regularly once a month
RFM-email with delivery reminder, sent every 180 days
RFM-email with delivery reminder, sent once a year
RFM web push notification “We will deliver your heavy order”, sent every 130 days
RFM mobile push notification
RFM mobile push notification “We will deliver your heavy order”, sent every 150 days

Transfer of all orders to Mindbox loyalty program processing

Previously, SberMarket handled payments for orders with promo codes. The METRO website had to directly address SberMarket services at every stage of ordering. This generated a large number of requests to SberMarket, which were not always processed quickly. On top of that, there were problems with the synchronization of product data. For example, METRO lists the product as in stock, but Sbermarket doesn’t. This way of organizing product information was inconvenient as it meant customers had to wait a long time to place an order, they could not always order what they wanted due to issues with the synchronization of items and frequent technical errors.

METRO configured all order checkouts on its side of operations to increase order processing and reduce the number of errors. Developing our backend and integrating with Mindbox processing allowed us to achieve this.

We opted for processing that was capable of launching the following promotions:

  • order discount in rubles;
  • order discount in percentage;
  • gift when buying a set of items;
  • gift when buying a certain item;
  • free shipping when ordering over a certain amount;
  • issuing promo codes automatically and manually.

Fast processing integration in only 1 month, with the help of Improvity.

Now only promotions with promo codes are launched through Mindbox, however, METRO plans to launch other promotions in the future.

Here’s what’s changed:

Partner-side processing Mindbox processing on the METRO side of operations

The order takes a long time to complete. At each stage of ordering, the customer has to wait 15 seconds for the next stage to load. The customer enters their contact details and has to wait, then clicks the “Place an order” button and has to wait again.

METRO has no influence over the speed of operations because it depends on the partner’s IT systems.

The order is processed quickly. It takes only a few seconds. The customer doesn’t have to wait for the page to load. The speed depends on METRO’s IT system.

At the checkout, the customer immediately sees all the obligatory steps to complete the order: filling out contact details, choosing the day and time of delivery.

Technical limitations. For example, you can’t set up an automatic application of a promo code for your cart during the order procedure.

All the necessary functions, including the automatic application of promo codes for the cart.

It is difficult to cooperate with other partners when it comes to delivery. Not all companies can organize the processing of promotions on their side.

It’s easy to cooperate with any partners when it comes to delivery. This is due to the fact that METRO deals with all processing.

Opinion

We had a list of promo mechanics that needed to be implemented right away and a list for the future. Mindbox ticked the most boxes from both lists. As a result, 80% of our expectations were met. This is a pretty good indicator! Not all the mechanics turned out to be as easy to implement as we had hoped. However, we’ll be sure to work out a solution together.

By choosing Mindbox, we saved time and money. According to our estimates, developing our own product would have cost us three times more than integrating with Mindbox.

Victoria Chebotareva

Victoria Chebotareva, Head of Digital Product Development at METRO Cash & Carry

A/B tests for each mailing

To increase the mailing open rate, a METRO marketer conducts A/B tests for each mailing. The test conditions are as follows: 30% of the customer base receives three emails with different subject options. The test ends three hours after sending is complete. The subject with the highest open rate is sent to the rest of the database.

Test results: 1,564,497 participants:

Topic options Open rate

✂️ We’ve cut our prices in half! Open this email and get your 
50% discount!

16.6%

✂️ We’ve cut our prices! Discounts from 50%

15.1%

Discounts from 50% on hundreds of items

13.9%

Test results, 1,576,778 participants:

Topic options Open rate

1+1 promotion

18.6%

Buy while stocks last

15.9%

Get the best deals with METRO!

15.4%

Collecting a customer base using pop-ups and built-in blocks

A pop-up collected customer emails from July 28 to October 11, 2021. The results are the following:

141,597
new subscribers
popup

Pop-up for collecting email addresses of visitors on the METRO website

We disabled the pop-up as it was shown to visitors who had previously provided their email “offline”. This happens because the platform “saw” offline customers on the website for the first time. Due to the intrusiveness of the pop-up, we replaced it with a built-in block in the website footer. METRO anticipates that the block will collect emails with the same success rate as the pop-up.

Built-in block
Built-in block for collecting emails from METRO website visitors

Customer base enrichment and cross-channel birthday chain sales

The birthday chain works in three stages via email and on the website.

Stage 1. Collecting dates of birth:

Email and pop-up
Email and pop-up
Email and pop-up on the website collecting dates of birth

Stage 2. Discounts will be sent to emails seven days before the birthday and five days via the website:

Email and web push
Email and web push
Email and web push notification on the website with a promo code for a discount on your birthday

Stage 3. Email with a promo code on your birthday.

Results:

24,132
customers have left their date of birth since the mechanics launched
Open rate Click rate Conversion rate
Email — 7 days before a customer’s birthday 24.1% 0.7% 0.1%
Web push notification — 5 days before a customer’s birthday 56.5% 6.1% 0.1%
Email — 1 day before a customer’s birthday 30.5% 2.4% 0.2%

Plans for the development of direct marketing

1. Launch trigger and bulk mailings in the web push channel, develop communication on the website through pop-ups.

2. Finish setting up detailed in-depth analytics on mailings. Google BigQuery and Power BI have already been connected. The next step is to configure the automatic offloading of data from the platform to these systems. This will make it possible to calculate the payback on the platform.

3. Enhance the accuracy of recommendations to improve product selection in personal recommendations and consistency in related products.

4. Transfer transactional order payment emails from SberMarket IT systems to Mindbox.

P.S. In this article we discussed our products Client Data Platform (CDP) and Multichannel Communications. Learn more about the products on their pages or by chatting to a consultant.