Business challenge

Roots knew that enhancing e-commerce journeys was an opportunity to make a lasting impression and drive growth. How could it detect and resolve customer struggles faster for an even better experience?


Roots uses AI from IBM Watson® Customer Experience Analytics to surface issues affecting conversion, determine the root causes of online customer struggles and prioritize fixes.



time to identify digital customer experience challenges


Roots to prioritize and fix issues with the greatest benefit first


customer feedback to unique online sessions, enabling faster issue resolution

Business challenge story

Making a lasting impression

Online retail is becoming more popular year-on-year—and increasingly, consumers prefer to explore retailers’ e-commerce sites before they visit brick-and-mortar stores. Roots, one of Canada’s leading lifestyle brands, knew that offering seamless, high-quality digital experiences would play an important role in driving continued growth within Canada and internationally.

Gabriela Mercer, ‎Analyst E-commerce and Marketing at Roots, explains: “Growth and expansion are key areas of focus for us. To accelerate our success, we are building a network of partners to further strengthen our go-to-market initiatives.

“The digital channel is especially important in markets where we don’t have a large network of physical stores. In these regions, our website can be the first opportunity to communicate our brand story, capture visitors’ imaginations and encourage them to buy. As a result, we aim to make the experience as smooth, user-friendly and personal as possible.”

Like many leading retailers, Roots relies on session replay technology to help identify and remediate potential sources of customer struggle on its websites. However, the company’s session capture tool had limitations that prevented it from gaining the timely, actionable insights it needed to drive its decision-making.

Matthew Ryan, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Roots, comments: “If a consumer contacted us to report a problem checking out their basket, we had to sift through all the transactions that occurred around the time of their order to find their specific session. If our tool had recorded the session, its data capture limitations meant we’d only see a sequence of images, not the raw data. The superficial level of detail available made it difficult to determine the root causes of experience issues.”

In the past, Roots had a maximum number of sessions it could record before it needed to manually reset its session capture tool. Because of the need for manual intervention, the company believed that some important sessions were going uncaptured.

With a continued focus on enhancing its online customer experience, Roots embarked on a complete redesign of its websites. In parallel, the company looked for an automated solution that could deliver rapid insights into its customers’ digital journeys.

With IBM Tealeaf, we are delivering best-in-class digital experiences to support our continued growth.

Gabriela Mercer, Analyst E-commerce and Marketing, Roots

Transformation story

Shaping seamless digital journeys

After a thorough vendor evaluation process, Roots selected IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics. This AI-driven platform enables organizations to visualize cross-channel customer journeys, re-live customer experiences in granular detail and set automatic alerts for high-priority customer struggles and conversion opportunities that call for immediate attention.

“We had been using IBM Digital Analytics to analyze and report on customer browsing behavior on our sites for a number of years,” recalls Gabriela Mercer. “IBM Digital Analytics already enabled us to report on the performance of our channels, track key performance indicators and gain insight into trends. When we told IBM what we were looking for, they suggested IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics—and we quickly realized it was the best fit for our needs.”

IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics brings together digital analytics, journey analytics and IBM Tealeaf® behavioral analytics in an end-to-end customer experience solution. Working with IBM, Roots deployed the solution during the development process for its new websites—helping it test and validate its design decisions.

Matthew Ryan comments: “Our recent website redesign is one of the most significant e-commerce efforts we have undertaken in the last ten years. The update included our English- and French-language Canada sites as well as our US site, which also handles orders for the international business. IBM Tealeaf was a real asset during the process, as it enabled us to very quickly catch and correct subtle design and coding issues that might otherwise have stayed hidden for many weeks after we launched.”

Gabriela Mercer adds: “Our website redesign project meant that our timelines for the IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics deployment were constantly shifting, but IBM was always willing to move resources around to support us. IBM does not just help you implement, they serve as trusted advisors that help you meet your business goals. We greatly value our partnership with IBM—particularly the opportunities to connect with our industry peers via Tealeaf user groups, which have given us some exciting new ideas about how to use the solution.”

Using the IBM Tealeaf component of IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics, Roots can dive deeper than ever into real-world customer sessions.

“We did not want pretty recordings—we wanted actionable insight,” Gabriela Mercer adds. “Of all the solutions we considered, we believe that IBM Tealeaf offers us more of the information we actually need to track down the root cause of issues. For example, if we notice that a significant number of users are landing on inactive pages, we can open IBM Tealeaf and actually see where those users are coming from.

“The IBM solution is centered on business impact. For example, IBM enables us to estimate the potential impact of customers leaving the site because of experience issues. This insight helps us focus our efforts on fixing the issues with the biggest impact, which is particularly valuable during peak retail periods such as the holiday season.”

Results story

Winning new customers around the world

Thanks to IBM Watson Customer Experience Analytics, Roots can pinpoint areas of customer struggle faster and more easily than ever—helping it shape exceptional digital experiences.

“In the past, if we received customer feedback from the contact center that promo codes were not working on the website, it would have been extremely difficult to determine if the issue was the result of user error,” says Matthew Ryan. “Thanks to our IBM solution, we recently detected that the promo code field on one of our sites would not apply a code unless a customer pressed enter, which many customers didn’t do when copying and pasting into the field.”

Mercer comments: “Thanks to our IBM solution, we can now successfully push out a fix for these types of issues much faster than ever before. The AI surfaces clear insights in near-real time, so we can quickly prioritize our work. Moving fast in this way not only helps us provide customers a better experience, but we believe it also helps lift conversion rates and drive incremental sales.”

Roots is now using the IBM solution to highlight technical issues across channels that would otherwise have remained hidden. For example, when the company noticed that a group of mobile customers were reporting that the e-commerce site was slow to load, it quickly found that a piece of code was incorrectly firing. After sharing the insight with its developers, Roots recoded the mobile site to deliver a more responsive customer experience.

Similarly, the company found that its address validation solution was applying rules too strictly. As a result, some customers were unable to check out if they entered their address in a way that did not exactly match the record in the address database—for example, by abbreviating “avenue” to “av”. Backed up with data from IBM Tealeaf, the digital team made a successful business case for a new address validation platform.

“IBM Tealeaf has become an essential tool that we have embedded into our processes—from our web developers to our contact center agents,” concludes Gabriela Mercer. “Just like positive experiences drive retention, bad experiences can push customers away—and when it comes to online retail, the bar for quality is higher than ever. With IBM Tealeaf, we’re delivering best-in-class digital experiences to support our continued growth.”

Roots Logo


Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Roots is a leading lifestyle apparel, leather goods, accessories and footwear brand with a rich Canadian heritage. As of May 5, 2018, Roots integrated omni-channel footprint included a global e-commerce platform, 117 company retail stores in Canada, three company retail stores in the United States, with the addition of two more Boston area stores in June 2018, 112 partner-operated stores in Taiwan and 30 partner-operated stores in China.

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