Short Shorts & Big Data (An Event Recap of Commerce on Tap: LA)

On Thursday, August 15th, 2019, BVAccel hosted the first in a series of events called ‘Commerce on Tap’ at Arts District Brewing Company in LA. 

Joined by industry partners, Shopify Plus, Gorgias, and Dynamic Yield, the BVA team gathered merchants to network, drink craft beer, and solve all the problems faced when prepping for the holidays. How much eCommerce knowledge was actually discussed, we may never know- rumor has it that the hot topic of the night was the brewery’s chicken and waffles.

Delicious food aside, the two stars of the show were the presenters, Corey Hivner, BVA’s Director of Delivery and Operations, and Devon Chulick, the eCommerce Product Manager at long-time BVA client, Chubbies. Both speakers, clad in the infamous Chubbies’ shorts and embracing the fun-casual ‘Chubbies-style’, shared great insight into how BVA and Chubbies worked together to close out another fantastic ‘Julyber’ sale.

Commerce on Tap: LA

Chubbies’ Julyber Sale

For those unfamiliar with the Chubbies holiday, ‘Julyber’ is well-known in the apparel industry for being one of the company’s annual promotional events with huge promotions. It’s so well-known, in fact, that they get approximately 10x unique site visitors on one single day.

Throughout the past four years of nearly flawless ‘Julyber’ sales, Devon has learned a lot about how to leverage data and creativity to create a strong, sustainable - and in some ways unconventional - eCommerce strategy.

As Devon puts it, Chubbies’ “secret sauce” when it comes to being a successful eCommerce brand is leveraging data to implement creative ideas. These ideas may or may not involve pranking customers, fireworks, and live 12-hour Facebook streaming with the Chubbies content team.

On the storefront side, Chubbies has found that with the autonomy and agility allowed by the Shopify Plus platform, they have been able to turn their promotional holiday into an hour-by-hour site optimization experience.

By working with BVA, their agency partner for the last six years, the company has been able to create customizable features, such as their Gift Engine, that has allowed them to have the utmost control when it comes to optimizing the customer shopping experience in real time. Not only does this mean happier shoppers, but it also leads to increased sales through personalized up-sells and cross-sells upon checkout.

Event Keynote Recap

Let’s take a deeper look at Corey and Devon’s keynote presentation from the event:

Corey: How do you collect and use data leading into Julyber?

Devon: We do a lot of trying to gauge what customers are signing up for. Like what gifts really inspired them when they signed up via email. Essentially, we try to see how many people we can drive without cannibalizing our current sales leading up to it.

We are a deeply data-driven company. Our special sauce is creativity and data.

So we try to think of something that’s very creative, really fun, and then we find data to support this.

Corey: Talk more about the day of Julyber, and what data you’re seeing on the day of that would allow you to be able to react to how people are interacting?

Devon: So the day of Julyber is the most optimized day of the year for the Chubbies website. We have everyone that is a stakeholder involved in it, in the conference room, and we’re literally looking at minute-by-minute data.

For example, when a gift is in the top position. We ask: how many people are purchasing, clicking this gift, checking out, what is that cart value, what is the velocity of that gift? Are they buying more than one unit to get to this gift?

We look at all that and make live changes on the site as it’s happening… and because of how we built the gift engine, and what BVAccel has done with us, we can literally make changes every five minutes to take full advantage of all the traffic that’s coming.

We have hundreds of thousands of people on this site on this one day. So paired with some testing that we do with Dynamic Yield, I can get an answer within minutes because of the statistical significance of how much traffic is coming in. Pair that with the gift engine and Dynamic Yield, we can make the max amount of money based off our traffic.

Corey: What about Chubbies’ holiday programs in general has NOT worked? Can you comment a little bit on maybe some pitfalls or wastes of energy that weren’t worth it?

Devon: Yeah, I mean, some things work really well to get great recognition, but didn’t convert as much in sales. And some things worked really well early in the campaign, and they don’t work as well today.

We tried individual sign-ups, for example - if you like this gift, sign up to be notified when this gift goes live. That worked in the very beginning. But as time progressed, people have become more excited about the campaign in general and don’t really care as much about the gifts. They’ve found that there is a product they want and they want to get something great with it, so they’re kind of waiting for that to happen rather than holding out for their unique gift. That’s probably one of the biggest learnings we’ve had.

Another thing- recently Julyber 2019 ended. The day after, I had a phone call… and it was about Thighber (our version of Black Friday / Cyber Monday).

The moment one sale ends, we start prepping for the next one.

There’s a lot of risk involved on days like this because we have almost 700,000 people coming to the site, so we have to be very responsive to everything that happens and prepare intelligently and far in advance. We do this by choosing the right partners to work with.

Corey: As a partner, I think one of the things that we’ve been keen on at BVA is building tools so that the Chubbies team will be able to manage it yourself. So with that, what did you do this past Julyber that maybe was different from previous runs?

Devon: We try to do something different each time. And one of the things that works the best is bringing our creativity out.

For example, we like pranks. So every ‘Julyber’, or ‘Thighber’, we have a prank. One year, we sent an email to our entire list, over a million people, and it looked like it was supposed to be an internal email to the whole company: “You can’t do this sale, you’re going to bankrupt the company. I am cancelling the sale right now, and you are all fired.” A lot of people thought it was real… and a lot of people loved it. It created a ton of buzz and our customers now kind of expect this type of thing.

One year we actually did a live QVC, where we were live on Facebook and we were just talking about the gifts as they came. That was actually kind of rough, because we had to be live on Facebook for 12 hours… We didn’t see our Content Team for about a week after.

So yes, we use all of this creativity, and we know how to get people to engage when we offer some sort of humor to them. But we also really study the data and recognize which gifts didn’t do so well. We use those trends and then offer the customers something we know they’re going to like, and then we find a couple things that we feel might be an opportunity. So every year we take a little bit of risk on some things that might be break-outs, and we learn from that.

Corey: Do you have any teasers on what’s coming up?

Devon: There’s going to be fireworks involved...and live EMT. Our insurance required it.


And now as we all wonder why an apparel brand promotion could possibly require live EMT… if you missed attending this Commerce on Tap, don’t worry. BVA will be heading to different cities for our upcoming events. To find out where and when our next event will be hosted, sign-up for our emailing list here. Hint: Big Apple folks, we’re looking at you.

Check Out Our Video Recap of Commerce on Tap: LA!