Crate and Barrel, Timberland Have Access to Unprecedented Data Through In-Store Technology

Challenged by the growth of ecommerce, retailers are looking for ways to spice up their brick-and-mortar presence. James Yancey, CEO and co-founder of in-store marketing technology provider CloudTags, spoke to eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how the vendor is helping brands like Crate and Barrel and Timberland make in-store experiences more digitally connected and engaging.


eMarketer: How is CloudTags bringing the physical and digital experience together for brands and consumers?

James Yancey: The premise is delivering physical intent data to retailers. We know that out of millions of people that walk into stores, only 10% convert. But the remaining 90% of shoppers are still looking at specific products and having interactions with sales associates. Our goal is to create connected stores that use app-less technology to collect data on these interactions. Every engagement with our technology takes place on in-store devices, which eliminates the barriers of signing in and downloading something.


eMarketer: What does it mean to create a connected store?

Yancey: We have a proprietary hardware structure that we ship to retailers. The base piece is called a cloud block—it’s a modular, metal building material that doesn’t require tools, like a Lego brick. These pieces are put together in retail locations and used to display tablets that shoppers can use in stores. In a 1,000-square-foot physical space, a furniture brand can display 20 products effectively. Our cloud block digital wall structure could feature 20 to 30 additional products displayed on tablets that consumers can explore.

In-store browsing data shows a high level of consideration, and that’s important to brands.
— James Yancey, CEO, CloudTags


eMarketer: What role do consumers’ personal devices play?

Yancey: If consumers want to make a purchase, they can visit the domain we’ve created for the retailer using their own device. For example, when we worked with Timberland, it was Visiting the domain sends a signal to the tablets on the digital wall. At that point, the device has a closed loop of communication with the tablets. Now, it’s all about touch—consumers can touch something on the digital wall with their finger, then touch their phone and the product will show up on the phone. From there, the consumer can purchase the product, ship it home or provide an email address to save it for later.


eMarketer: In what ways does this cater to the pop-up trend in retail?

Yancey: Retailers are embracing flexible, modular experiences. They’re moving away from 15-year leases on 30,000-square-foot spaces. Brands such as Crate and Barrel or Timberland will still have their stores, but there are other opportunities for them as well. For example, Timberland is looking at building retail experiences at Brooklyn Brewery. We provide infrastructure to show their entire range of products in very small spaces.


eMarketer: What if a consumer doesn’t make a purchase? What other data is collected and how can it be beneficial to retailers?

Yancey: After consumers leave the store, everything they interacted with can be curated and sent to them. It works like retargeting on a website. In-store browsing data shows a high level of consideration, and that’s important to brands. And if consumers do choose to opt-in to receive emails throughout the browsing process, this is also valuable because many customers who come to physical stores are not the same customers that shop on the website. The role of the physical store is then to not only drive transactions, but suddenly there’s also a tremendous potential for new customer identification.



CloudTags and MADE.COM Win RetailWeek Tech & Ecomm Award for Best Use of Technology In-Store


CloudTags’ Visual Commerce Walls offer the entire range of products in small format stores


LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Connected Store Platform, CloudTags, wins first place award for Best Use of Technology In-Store for their work with digitally native brand MADE.COM in opening their first data-informed smart pop-up in Brighton.

We are excited to accept this award. The concepts and possibilities around flexible and modular retail experiences in local markets are endless. The fact that we’re able to extend our reach locally while offering the entire range profitably is a win for the company
— RetailWeek Tweet

Connected stores are tech activated spaces that power customer identification, predictive intelligence and in-store remarketing.

CloudTags' platform analysed product-level transactional and browse associations across MADE’s online and in-store customer-base from their connected showrooms. The research determined smart associated pairings across the entire MADE.COM offering best suited for Brighton customers. Using this omnichannel customer data, the connected showroom offered modular product visuals that adapted based on localised customer behaviours in that showroom location.

This was the first time MADE.COM used these smart data insights in their new pop up spaces in both Brighton and now in Birmingham as part of their ongoing strategy to balance the online and offline presence of the brand as they continue to expand.

MADE.COM’s second smart pop-up is live now in the Birmingham Bullring and will be open for four weeks from the 5th to the 31st October to extend their brand experience to the local market. The showroom will feature interactive touch walls powered by CloudTags that are similar to the experience used across all of their showrooms.

"We are excited to accept this award. The concepts and possibilities around flexible and modular retail experiences in local markets are endless. The fact that we’re able to extend our reach locally while offering the entire range profitably is a win for the company," said Annabel Kilner, head of commercial at MADE.COM.

"Traditionally the pop-up category has been seen as an exercise around brand building and customer and market research. However, pop-ups are in most cases, not profitable and difficult to track and measure. To win this award as a first in the category shows that flexible retail opportunities are gaining renewed focus and importance. We’re excited to be the first platform to help digitally native vertical brands like MADE.COM power connected commerce in modular, measurable and profitable ways," said James Yancey, CEO of CloudTags.

CloudTags is the creator of the Connected Store - powering customer identification, predictive intelligence and in-store remarketing. CloudTags' technology increases sales for retailers by allowing customers to interact digitally with products in the store, then re-engaging them intelligently afterward. For more information, please visit or follow on Twitter @cloudtags.

MADE.COM is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Ning Li (CEO) and Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Together with Ning’s business school friend Julien Callede and former architect Chloe Macintosh, they founded the firm in March 2010. MADE.COM’s vision is to make great design accessible to everyone. plans more smart pop-ups for halo effect on online sales

Online home furnishings retailer is working on a series of pop-up stores in high footfall areas around the UK to benefit from the halo effect that follows physical store activity. is working with pop-up specialist Appear Here and connected store platform CloudTags to create flexible and modular stores that balance the online and offline and presence of the brand.

CloudTags provides app-less experiences across customer devices such as phones and tablets, meaning no sign-in is required. It also lets retailers identify and recognize returning customers. Customers get access to the brand's full product range while in-store.

The second 'smart pop-up' store is currently trading in Link Street at Birmingham's Bullring. It follows a concept first seen in Brighton, in a store which achieved a 3.7x return on the investment required to run it.

The stores feature Visual Commerce Walls powered by CloudTags to provide an experience similar to that offered in the brand’s permanent showrooms – a standard that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in a temporary store.

Use of the technology also enables to collect enhanced customer data.

“Launching flexible retail experiences is an increasing trend for digitally native vertical brands like,” says the brand’s head of commercial Annabel Kilner. “What we see is not only a positive ROI on the investment from direct sales using this model, but also a significant halo effect for online sales in the entire region from a short-term physical presence.”

“Combining a small number of physical products with data-driven experiences like the Visual Commerce Walls in small spaces is a compelling model,” says CloudTags managing director Ollie Bath. “We expect to see increasing use of data capture and optimization from smart pop-ups in 2017.”



Is Omnichannel Marketing Finally Going From Retail Dream to Reality? Crate and Barrel, Timberland and Macy’s hope so.

There's been a flurry of recent developments that suggest retailers this holiday season may summon the nerve to reboot their omnichannel marketing efforts, tapping into Big Data tactics that in years past may have seemed more like Big Brother.

Crate and Barrel is testing a program, dubbed Mobile Totes, in its Skokie, Ill., store in suburban Chicago that leans on several branded tablet devices. The endeavor, bolstered by CloudTags' software, encourages patrons to use the tablets to email themselves products they want but are not available in the store. Yet, here's the thing: When such emails are clicked on, thanks to recipients' cookie IDs, the merchant retargets people on its website with banner ads that pitch products they first showed interest in during a store visit. The home-decor merchant attributes a 10 percent sales hike to the 2-month-old pilot. But could this showroom-to-living-room data utilization inspire backlash instead of back orders?

More and more, people are actually expecting that we know their shopping preferences. They are expecting us to be smarter and smarter.
— Joan King, VP of E-commerce, Crate and Barrel

"I don't think customers will find it creepy," answered Joan King, vp of ecommerce, Crate and Barrel. "More and more, people are actually expecting that we know their shopping preferences. They are expecting us to be smarter and smarter." Recent studies show that consumers have generally acquiesced to data-based targeting, according to Joseph Turow, a professor and researcher at University of Pennsylvania. "Resignation rather than anger is the current predicament," he noted.
Consumers now expect retailers to know their shopping preferences. 

Such leeway is partly why omnichannel marketing seems primed to finally move from being a retail dream to more of a reality, involving multisourced data that determine how to cohesively target offers to consumers in stores, on home computers and everywhere in between via smartphones. Later this month, Timblerland will unveil a "TouchWall" at its White Plains, N.Y., location, using a sizable interface that's powered by near-field-communication (NFC) technology. It will let shoppers zap product information from the digital wall to their phones with a couple of finger taps, saving the items for later purchase—not to mention data that can be used for retargeting when they are sitting at home.

"You are engaging with the consumer on an intimate level—they are telling you what products are interesting," said Kate Kibler, vp of direct to consumer at Timberland. "That customer data is one of the most important things to grow your brand."

Both Google and Facebook have been introducing a consistent flow of data-based products this year that are designed to break the barriers between brick-and-mortar retailers and digital advertising. That's because, per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 93 percent of sales ($4 trillion-plus annually) occur offline. "We are at the precipice of connecting mobile to stores in a really scalable way," declared Maz Sharafi, Facebook's director of monetization.

Some of the newest and oldest of merchants are ramping up their omnichannel efforts. Menswear startup Combatant Gentlemen this holiday will mix social media sentiment, store heat-mapping data, website usage patterns and real-time sales activity to determine how it merchandises its website and outlets. Then there's 157-year-old Macy's, which has teamed with IBM Watson to create a mobile app called On Call. It's jazzed up with artificial intelligence, letting customers in 10 stores use natural-language queries such as "Where are women's shoes?" to find products without the help of a sales clerk.

The marketing potential for AI-fueled data is endless. "[Our customer] is bouncing between our website and our store, and she's on her mobile phone pretty much all day long," said Serena Potter, Macy's vp of digital media strategy.