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Lots of retailers are wrestling with the challenges that mobile customers bring. But trying to meet different customer needs on a variety of screen sizes – from snug smartphones to widescreen laptops via touchscreen tablets – needs careful planning and design. We recently completed a project with The Perfume Shop that shows just how powerful a good mobile site can be.

As an increasingly important part of The Perfume Shop’s omni-channel business model, the retailer wanted to improve the customer experience on smartphones and create a consistent experience across all of customer connections.

The solution we designed, which was shortlisted for Best Mobile Optimised Site at the recent Drapers and Retail Week PayPal Etail Awards, is helping to get more customers buying on mobiles (with PayPal integration) and visiting stores (with location-based store finder functionality).

The mobile optimised site has only been up and running for a few months, but already The perfume Shop is seeing massive improvement across mobile, in both conversion and transaction rates.

You can try out The Perfume Shop’s mobile site here.

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The recent Retail Week Technology Awards highlighted the vital role technology plays in enhancing the customer experience. And it’s not just restricted to in-store retail theatre fads or digital social trends. As our shortlisted customers proved, the right technology behind the scenes can enhance the customer experience by enabling programmes that impact the customer lifecycle and synchronise cross-channel brand experiences.

There were three ‘Customer Initiative’ projects up for prizes at the event, two for Thomas Pink and one from Liberty.

In the Multichannel Project of the Year category, Thomas Pink’s ‘Single Customer View’ project showed the power of creating one customer database across all channels. It’s not easy to do – but the benefits are worth it as the SCV acts as the foundation for a whole host of other customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives. In Thomas Pink’s case, leveraging the data from different channels by personalising and simplifying the customer experience has paid off, with signs of increased customer satisfaction, increased cross-channel behaviour and improved communication click-through and conversion.

Thomas Pink’s other award entry was for Marketing Solution of the Year. The retailer’s ‘In the Pink’ campaign was created on the back of loyalty research that revealed that rewarding ‘multibuyers’ for their Loyalty would result in incremental customer value, increased customer satisfaction and a positive impact on the bottom line.

The programme designed to tap into this insight, ‘In the Pink’ achieves a number of loyalty  aims – it thanks and rewards customers; keeps the messaging fresh and relevant; and positively impacts multibuyer activity. The result, in incremental sales alone, are way above the target set out in the original business case, with increases in average customer value and overall revenue.

Sitting alongside Thomas Pink for Marketing Solution of the Year was Liberty, with its ‘Retain/Reactivate’ customer lifecycle programme. Liberty provides a unique shopping experience and already boasts excellent customer loyalty. But the ‘Retain/Reactivate’ programme used the retailer’s multichannel database aimed to reach out to less active and dormant customers

Once again, data analysis was the starting point. The Customer Insight team dived into the customer data to identify customer ‘drop-off’ points. They could also see that enticing people back within a specific timeframe resulted in a significant increase in customers going on to make two or more orders. Off the back of this, Liberty undertook a hugely successful two-staged ‘We’ve Missed You!” marketing campaign which provided customers with various offers, depending on their current status, and resulted in significant retention and reactivation.  Best in class CRM retailers know that long-term sustainable profitability comes from the retention of existing customers, not just acquisition.

Both retailers are pleased with the results they have seen, and are already devising and implementing higher levels of CRM excellence over the next twelve months!

Tanya Bowen, Head of CRM & Clienteling, BT Expedite & Fresca


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At Fat Face, we’re no strangers to excitement and danger. A sense of adventure runs through the whole company, originally set up to support two friends skiing in the Alps. But it’s a fine line between the thrill of beating a black run – and the embarrassment of being air-ambulanced off the slopes.

When it came to our recent POS replacement project, we knew any mistakes could bring the whole mountain crashing down on us. And no one jumps in to rescue off-piste retailers.

It was a brave decision to replace the old system, no doubt; it was dead on its feet and in danger of toppling over at any point, but the project wasn’t without risks of its own. Massive benefits if successful; the very survival of the business at risk if we failed. And we had a timescale that looked impossible on paper and landing right at the start of peak trading.

Having come from the rather less adrenaline charged surroundings of Marks & Spencer, the POS project at Fat Face was a real eye opener. You tend to imagine similar approaches and processes on a bigger or smaller scale depending on the size of the organisation, but IT change projects in small to medium businesses bring with them a whole new set of challenges.

So, for example, in a large organisation you might have people whose full time jobs revolve around one aspect of the project. That’s not the case in a small retailer, where people have to be prepared to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities and push themselves out of their comfort zone – on a daily basis. That needs a real entrepreneurial mindset.

It doesn’t mean internal stakeholders have any lower expectations – if anything, they’re much greater as they have a lot more skin in the game. And with disparate and ageing systems, the requirements are often much more complex.

Similarly, there’s less governance and less large change project expertise in-house – so it’s vital to have a technology partner that you can depend on and pull in to help when needed.

And lastly, budgets are smaller and there’s absolutely no leeway. You might take a £m hit in a big company for going over budget. In a small company, you could bring the whole thing down. That’s a huge amount of pressure to deal with – and because it’s not a faceless “department” at fault, there’s nowhere to hide. You’re exposed and you’re accountable.

But, when it goes right – and despite a few late nights and scary moments our POS project went spectacularly well – there’s no better feeling. You can genuinely see the difference your work is making to the business, its people and its customers. And after a quick breather, you’re off looking for the next mountain to tackle.

Watch the BT Expedite Fat Face video case study: Cloud-based, omni-channel POS system designed, deployed and delivering the goods in just nine months

Posted by guest writer Leon Shepherd, Business Change & IT Director, Fat Face

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Sometimes the best new technology may not actually be that new

‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ This somewhat trite aphorism may sound hackneyed, but apply it to the world of technology and retail and it still has considerable validity. The best technology is genuinely useful, whether it’s in-store iPads with staff around to help you use them, or perhaps the better self-scan applications that you might come across when you’re in a hurry.

The downside is that for every productive use of technology, there can be a snowstorm of solutions in search of problems. The approach for some seems to be to invent a piece of software and then think of a scenario in which it might conceivably have some use. The outcome is something that is almost invariably unwanted.

For the best front-of-house technology however look no further than Burberry and Primark. Burberry, because its Regent Street global flagship really is a place where shoppers are given the chance to use what might be termed “assisted technology”. Every member of staff packs an iPad, there are mirrors that turn into screens with product information and there’s even a giant screen that streams Burberry runway shows live to an invited audience.

Figure 1: Burberry

None of this is terribly remarkable taken in isolation, but it’s the combination and deployment of the technology that is what really counts. And this perhaps is the point. Most of what retailers need may already be available in some form, but the smarter technology offers are about using this in a novel manner.
And for an established technology that is being put to new use, look no further than Primark. The discount fashion outfit has been given space in Selfridges newly-opened Denim Studio in its Oxford Street flagship. And as it’s about fast fashion, a self-scan unit has been put in.

Figure 2: Primark

This would be normal in a supermarket, but it’s a novelty in a fashion store and shows how thinking beyond your immediate competitor set can pay dividends when it comes to thinking about what might be done with an existing technology. Think not therefore about finding something completely new. This will almost never happen. Consider instead how you can do more with what’s already out there and who is in the business of making this happen.

Posted by guest writer John Ryan, Stores Editor, Retail Week and Drapers

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Topping off a fantastic first day at the recent BT for Retail Summit 2013, after dinner speaker Katherine Grainger shared some of the secrets of her success. In an inspirational talk, the Olympic gold medallist and Britain’s most successful female rower made the point that it’s the journey that makes the achievement all the sweeter.

Watch Katherine discuss the ‘Do or Die’ approach that has helped her reach her goals in our exclusive video.

You can get a flavour of what went on over the two days of the BT for Retail Summit 2013, including highlights videos, snippets from keynote speeches and feedback from retailers such as Build-A-Bear Workshop, Claire’s, Crabtree & Evelyn, Fat Face, Jigsaw, Mothercare, Notcutts, Thomas Pink and WH Smith.

Posted by Justine Arthur, Head of Communications and Campaigns, BT Expedite & Fresca

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