“Behaving with a heart: Boxed.com’s recipe for success”


Seth Hillstrom (Seth): 

How can suppliers and online retailers work together to create a sum greater than its parts (in the ecommerce environment, and beyond)?   

This is a common theme at eBev – so we are extremely lucky to have Boxed CMO Jackson Jeyanayagam here with us today to talk about it. 

Have a question or idea to share? Please do.  

Jackson, thanks so much for being with us today! 

Jackson Jeyanayagam (Jackson):

Hey Seth. Thanks for hosting this Q&A. I think that’s a great question. One thing we have seen, and have been discussing at great length with our CPG partners is how to better understand the path to purchase for their customer. Given how much data flows through the Boxed platform, we are in a unique position to use those insights/data points to continue to evolve and improve the CX for our customers…and if we can do that in conjunction with our CPGs and suppliers, they can then provide better products and more targeted messaging based on what they know their customers want and convert on…and when I say customers, I mean real customers. Not just people who liked a FB page or subscribed to an email. The opportunity to help bring our CPG’s closer to the customer is really exciting and, I believe, the future for how CPG’s will work with retailers/ecommerce companies.


I whole-heartedly agree, and it’s that connection with and understanding of the customer that I believe is the “missing piece” for a lot of CPG marketers.

I know you’ve worked very hard at Boxed to think about – and serve – consumer cohorts in terms of behavior rather than traditional demographic data. Can you tell us how behavioral targeting, translated into matching creative and communications for each cohort, has transformed how Boxed connects with and understands their consumer?


This is a major priority for us. My team and I work very closely with our Merchandise team; technology team; and Product team to utilize our insights on our best customer to enhance the product experience. That ranges from incorporating their preferences into technology roll-outs; merchandise selection and email/retargeting messaging. For instance, we know one of our segments is really driven by technology and convenience (vs. value and deals), so we create messaging streams for them that level up any technology improvements, even if minor, and show them how they can save time by using our platform. So while the demographic data is still important, it doesn’t drive any decisions. It merely helps us paint the picture of a particular segment but the behavioral data is what we really put in the driver seat to help inform decisions we make to create an awesome, best-in-class CX. The key, however, is the feedback loop. How do we validate, refute and share those learnings to all the various orgs in a way that helps all of us continue to improve upon the last initiative or campaign. That part is alway a work in progress but something we are committed to and try to prioritize as an organization.


Taking the next step – you must be generating some incredible data around these behavior sets. Does that translate into being able to work with your CPG suppliers to provide them with behavioral targeting insights as they pertain to the online grocery/bulk grocery channel?


Yes, similar to my original response to you, we try to be very transparent and open with our CPG’s so they can better understand the path to purchase, the behaviors of their best [real] customers and use that data to offer even better products and promotions based on that. It’s a very collaborative approach we take with our CPG’s because we value everything they bring to the table. The least we could do is share our insights back to them so we can both work together to further improve the customer experience for anyone shopping on Boxed. It’s not as fun or impactful if we hoard that data to ourselves. We are all in this together!


…And this is why boxed.com is quickly becoming a favorite customer/partner of CPG marketers worldwide!

Excellent! So are there any examples you can give us where this type of brand/retail collaboration worked to increase sales of the brand on Boxed? And I’m curious if a brand has been able to apply these insights to generate lift even beyond Boxed?


We worked closely with Kraft to do some really cool A/B testing as part of a unique Facebook activation where we would share data & insights back to them within the platform, that allowed them to better understand what their customers were shopping for (or not shopping for). It’s still relatively early so I can’t really speak to what the application has been but i think that’s a great template for how we would want to execute those kind of co-op programs. We also recently did a really great P&G activation leveraging their Winter Olympics sponsorship, which was completely customized based on learnings we had from an NFL promotion we ran with them (of which they are also a sponsor). In that case, the tweaks we made resulted in increases across every relevant metric – order volume; size; and retention. That was very exciting to see.


Both are impressive, and that really sounds like an awesome program with Kraft – I hope we have a chance to hear how the insights are applied and what kind of outcomes you/they attribute to it.

So beverage is a unique animal when it comes to the ecommerce environment. Drinks are heavy and take up space – and alcohol delivery has endless regulatory hurdles that many companies are trying to solve. But beverages are also an essential part of a shopping experience – wherever that may take place. Tell me how Boxed thinks about drinks. I notice that you seem to select brands that align with the millennial consumer. I’m sure that’s no accident.


I am really excited about this one! After spending a few years on the agency side supporting Diageo as a client I became really passionate about marketing of spirits…so I was thrilled to learn, when I came to Boxed, that we would soon be rolling out spirits delivery. As you noted, it’s definitely not easy given all the hurdles and state-specific regulations but it’s such a massive opportunity. We know that occasions are a big opportunity for us; and like most people, we also know that spirits and occasions go hand in hand; and from a marketing standpoint, there is a ton we can do in terms of targeting, messaging and creative – to be very relevant to our core customer. What makes us a bit different than most of the other liquor-only delivery options, is that we are offering the full shopping car experience. So instead of liquor being a one-off, we think customers will buy their tortilla chips, vodka, cookies and water all at the same time…and why wouldn’t you? Perhaps more exciting, is the learning we will have from an adjacent category/product perspective (i.e., who knew that oreos were the most bought product in conjunction with bourbon). I just made up that example, but you get the picture. There is a lot of potential there!


It makes perfect sense, and this more holistic view of what a customer wants and needs (not what structure is already in place) when thinking about ecommerce is something I was just chatting with Leslie Danford of BeamSuntory about: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6375066967832821760

Okay…For anyone that does not know Boxed and/or hasn’t heard some of the national stories – they are well known for taking on the things they care about and putting their money where their mouth is. This includes their employees, and equality. From covering employees’ children’s tuition, to paying for employee weddings, and the highly touted Rethink Pink Initiative, your team has built a culture at Boxed that carries well beyond the walls of the company. I already know that Chieh Huang is a great guy whose motivation is that he cares (courtesy of Bonin Bough often singing his praises!). That said, it would be a missed opportunity to not pick up on these activities as a marketer. How do you believe this culture has contributed to the success of Boxed as a company and as a brand?


Ah man, i would say this might be one of the most important differentiators for Boxed as a brand an organization. As you know, I have worked with (and at) several agencies and brands and I have never been a part of something as special as Boxed. One of the biggest things that attracted me to the company was that vision of doing the right thing and doing right by your people/employees. When Chieh talked to me about his vision, it was hard not to get excited about the prospect of working there; and unfortunately, it’s all too rare. The idea behind the rethinkpink campaign and the education and wedding funds was simple – there is a problem that many of us can relate to. the founders were in a position to do something about it; so they did it. It’s not done in a trite or disrespectful way either. It’s done out of genuine care for the employees, community and greater good of society…but I truly believe this will be what differentiates all brands in the future. Brands that consistently do the right thing because they can will win. Brands that stand on the sideline will lose. I’m excited to be on the winning side because I have seen first-hand the impact on people’s lives, that we can make. Nothing should matter more.


I really love and appreciate it Jackson. I believe this ethos is that of the modern consumer, and will only continue to grow.

And the best part? Just as you said, with Boxed it’s not self-serving CSR, it’s founded in real, addressable problems…and you’re making an actual impact!

Jackson Jeyanayagam you and Boxed have an approach to be admired and adopted. Thank you so much for chatting with us and sharing these invaluable insights!


Sean Dolen, Business Development Manager, Quiq Incorporated (in response to original question):

Thank you Seth Hillstrom , great question. We have bridged a major gap within this sector. Multi-channel messaging. For example, texting is the most used feature on mobile devices and preferred by consumers. 96% of texts are opened. Texts opposed to chat averages an increase of 33% conversions. If I could text a business opposed to calling customer service, I most certainly would. Per customer service, text outbound notifications for order confirmations, shipping/delivery updates or for sales text specials, discounts, coupon codes, renewal order notifications. Its all about creating a customer experience that exists on their terms and preferred cadence. I’ve been lucky enough to take part in such a progression with Overstock, Office Depot, and dozens of other retailers.

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