On the first day of the 2019 Loyalty Expo, Jimmy Budnik, Vice President of Customer Care for Overstock, took the stage for an interactive presentation. Overstock is a household name, but Budnik began by introducing the not-so-commonly-known aspects of his brand and its loyalty efforts.
He said, “We’re primarily focused on home goods, furniture, décor, but we also have a very large tech background. Under the Overstock umbrella, there’s also another half of the company called Meta G, which does a lot in the blockchain world.”
He emphasized the origins of the company. “Overstock is really a technology company. We use technology to create a platform that connects customers to home goods. That’s very different from an IKEA, which, at its core, is a furniture company that has stores and may also have a website.”
Budnik also noted that, in his role, he reports to the Chief Customer Officer, so his duty is to ensure that the customer experience is enhanced as his brand innovates and develops technologically. He said, “We approach [innovation] as a very academic and scientific pursuit, instead of just going by our gut and making what we want to make.”
Instead, he and his team work methodically. “With a traditional approach,” he said, “we have a hypothesis, such as, ‘we believe the consumer will act this way,’ and then, since we’re able to virtually change every aspect of our experience through a digital platform, we’re able to, in controlled ways, do A/B tests and measure what the customer actually wants.”
These tests help continually improve the Overstock experience in substantive ways. “It’s not just the look. It’s not just the background,” Budnik said. Program benefits and price-points are subject to the testing also.
He further noted that the convenience customers have grown accustomed to (due to Amazon and similar entities) has affected his organization’s goals. “Is next-day delivery really important when you’re buying a $5,000 handmade sofa? Turns out, yes,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.
When the floor was opened for questions, one marketer asked how Budnik and his team are able to maintain executive buy-in with developing projects that have failures along the way. Budnik responded that, given his company’s analytic approach, each failure is studied for its smaller successes, and each success is studied for its smaller failures.
He said, “One should say the word ‘fail’ about unimportant things. If there’s something due by Wednesday that really isn’t that important, if you get them open to using the word ‘fail’ in conversation about the unimportant things and get that into your vocabulary as not a dirty word, it’s the best way to break the ice.”

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