Polytab Analytics Blog

Q&A with Florsheim Shoes’ Ryan Wittmann

Florsheim Shoes is owned by the Weyco Group. It is an iconic 125-year-old American brand specializing in leather shoes, currently run by the 5th generation of the Florsheim family. The group is growing its direct to consumer presence across digital retail channels. The e-commerce team has been using Polytab for almost a year now and we recently approached them to get feedback on how we are doing. Personally, it was interesting to see how an icon like Florsheim shoes is adapting to the digital age. My conversation was with Ryan Wittmann, an e-commerce marketing analyst, with responsibilities towards all Weyco group brands. We talked about using Polytab and data analytics to power the company’s goals.

florsheim shoes
Ryan Wittmann

Me: What were your goals for this year at Florsheim Shoes?

Mr. Wittmann: We focused on keeping the customer retention high and wanted to find new, effective ways to gain new customers and improve overall ROI.

Me: How is Polytab helping you reach these goals?

Mr. Wittmann: We use Polytab to perform effective analyses that we weren’t able to perform in the past, specifically around display retargeting, looking at the vendor’s effectiveness and deciding whether or not to scale up or scale down.

Me: What tools did you use in the past?

Mr. Wittmann: We have traditionally used Google Analytics, (and still do) but one of the limitations is that conversions are measured by last touch, which is very rudimentary compared with the tools that we now have through Polytab.

Me: What led you to a decision of using an attribution tool?

Mr. Wittmann: We were guided by the need to understand the customer more granularly, and how the customer interacts with our marketing channels. We have an older customer but have needed to adapt to a younger generation to growThe Polytab data has helped us to build that understanding. Technology adaptation has been easier for the younger generations, which makes the behaviors more measurable and easier to adapt to the business proactively.

Me: What drives this change in today’s customer – from your brand’s perspective and e-commerce in general?

Mr. Wittmann: From my research and conversations with other retailers, there has been a decrease of browsing and buying on branded sites, and an increase on mass merchants, such as Amazon (where over half of the product and purchasing searches begin), Google Shopping, and Wal-Mart.  Because of this shift, brands now have to actively work with their customers to provide personalization and products to give themselves the edge, more so than a few years ago. In creating value for the customer, we have had to change the product assortment to reflect this changing customerThis affects the whole supply chain.

Brands now have to actively work with their customers to provide personalization and products to give themselves the edge.

Me: How does Polytab help to unravel this new generation’s customer?

Mr. Wittmann: We have traditionally used Polytab to look at how customers arrive at our site and eliminate the channels that did not produce results. For example, in display retargetingtiming and placement are everything.  Without the control to follow the customer and optimize to their behaviors, there tends to be a lot of waste.  We run our business fairly conservatively, so eliminating waste would have allowed us to reinvest and scale with our partner at a cost structure we could maintain.  We saw this as mutually beneficial to both parties, with increased spend for our partner and increased sales for us.  We ran an analysis in Polytab and determined a few key optimizations we could make; however, due to technological limitations, these optimizations could not be made on the vendor’s side.  Without the ability to optimize to successful segments, we could not produce an ROI to support the spend we were at. Ultimately, we moved our budget to another vendor. Since then, we have continued to experiment and use Polytab to measure effectiveness with our current vendors.

Me: How did you use those insights?

Mr. Wittmann: We have made, and will continue to make, vendor decisions and continue to experiment with the goal of optimization. We revisit this conversation with all vendors on a fairly frequent basis and change strategy to be effective and win.

Me: Did you present your Polytab findings to the vendor you fired to argue your point?

Mr. Wittmann: We did. The biggest benefit is that the data is an objective way to have performance discussions with vendors and keeps the conversation away from subjective topics, like personal performance.  The “firing” process becomes something that doesn’t have to be feared, but very metric driven.

Me: Did you have any other discoveries using Polytab? Any hypotheses proven or disproven?

Mr. Wittmann: We used it mostly for our display advertising efforts, but have also performed an email analysis. The findings have proved our initial hypothesis which was the presumption that email was the number one retention strategy.

Me: How do you use the platform – do you download the “data” dump or login frequently?

Mr. Wittmann: I log in weekly or biweekly, with the intent to answer questions from executive management. What I find is that without a clear goal, there is not enough time to enter the rabbit holebut the flexibility Polytab provides helps navigate that rabbit hole. Generally, we use it to answer questions when they present themselves.

Me: How do you see Polytab analytics supporting your business in the future?

Mr. Wittmann: Talking with Varun [CEO, Polytab Analytics] and Jeff Douglass [Marketing Director at Weyco Group], I would like to better understand how customers interact with the website and having the ability to send that data to different sources. The new Recommendations engine capability is hitting that demandand we see Polytab as a valuable future partner to increase our business.

Me: Thank you, Ryan, for your time and feedback.


Image by oakandroma.com