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Guest Blog, Cain Ullah: Building a prosperous and successful eCommerce platform…

Cain is the CEO and founder of Red Badger, with responsibilities including; strategy, culture, sales and marketing. He is extremely proud of Red Badger’s people and is focused on scaling quality and a lovely culture in the team.

The classic British brand, Fortnum & Mason, is widely known for its rich heritage and exceptional in-store service. But how does a brand with three centuries of legacy keep up with its peers, thrive in the digital landscape, and ensure its customer experience is replicated online? Cain Ullah, CEO and founder at Red Badger, details the agile software consultancy’s experience of developing a tangible eCommerce site for the luxury department store

Feedback and the right technology

In order to create an eCommerce experience that would give customers the same level of service that they would expect in-store, Fortnum & Mason partnered with Red Badger to further develop the medium. The site was built and tested in eight months and, since its launch, customer service enquiries reduced and website sales metrics have soared, contributing substantially to Fortnum’s best ever trading day over the Christmas 2015 period.

Putting their loyal and valued customers at the heart of the project, Fortnum’s carried out in-store face-to-face testing from an early stage of the process, as well as extensive beta testing so that feedback and requests could be actioned quickly from UX research. This brave approach, which many retailers still shy away from doing, meant that expectations were met well before the full go-live took place. This rapid approach meant that Fortnum’s achieved a re-platform in just eight months, for under £1.3million.

Three months of beta testing allowed the fully-integrated Red Badger and Fortnum’s team to discover how customers were using the site, why drop out occurred at certain stages and what was deemed to be off-putting – making it possible to streamline the checkout process, refine the user journey and solve specific integration issues.

Such extensive customer testing highlighted the desire for certain bespoke services, including the ‘Build Your Own Hamper’ function – a key service in store which hadn’t previously been available online.

Aesthetics

When a retailer focuses on the business processes in developing an eCommerce site, details that are considered small but critical to the customer experience can often be missed. An example of this during the Fortnum & Mason rebuild was the use of colour, which was carefully considered based on the feedback from the consumer testing. Fortnum & Mason is recognisable for their use of eau de nil, long associated with royalty and refined tastes and, corresponding with the store itself, the soft incandescent lighting-style colour scheme of the website mimics home lighting rather than the usual harsh shop-floor fluorescent bulbs. The soft background colouring also reduces on-screen glare. After reviewing customer feedback and analysing its use on packaging, our UX and design team recognised that the signature colour should be reserved for key product shots and call to action buttons.

The future

The website was built using systems and software that Red Badger chose specifically for the value it would create for the long term. The needs of the business and its customers can shift dramatically in a short period based on changing retail trends and customer behaviour, in addition to developments in technology. For several years forecasters have predicted that eCommerce revenue from smartphone devices will override revenue from large view portals. Fortnum’s fully responsive site, built without limitation to specific devices, will allow the company the flexibility to cope with these changes without being forced to make repeated platform or technology changes. The backend integrations with systems that run enterprise resource planning (ERP) and fulfilment for Fortnum’s can easily be switched for new versions, or entirely different software as the business updates its back office to cope with changing and growing demand.

Results

The new site celebrated its first anniversary in February 2016 and the difference has been significant; conversion improved by 14 per cent on the previous year with uplift showing from the first week of the launch; average order value increased five per cent; total sales increased 30 per cent; and calls to customer services were reduced by 40 per cent on the site’s first full day of trading. On top of these figures, online sales went up 38 per cent in 2015, which included a 26 per cent rise in the sales of the world-famous hampers. Personalisation services saw a 261 per cent increase in November vs October and, in regards to user experience, the drop off during navigation of delivery options reduced from 18.8 per cent to 12.9 per cent.