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Case Studies: The practice of the best

Exemplary businesses doing the right thing in the real world.

How Mister Auto helps motorists get the right parts

The key challenge for Mister Auto is to enable shoppers to find the right item for their car from the one million parts that it has in stock. The retailer, which sells car parts and related motoring equipment online, enables visitors to its website to search by registration number for the right part to fit each car.

Visitors can also look up parts by their manufacturer’s number or use Mister Auto’s app, since Mister Auto UK is among the 5% of Growth 2000 companies that have an iOS app, and the 4% that have an Android app.

That app enables shoppers to register the details of their car and then order the relevant parts when needed. Customers can also choose from delivery options including standard and express delivery – and, at the time of writing, get free delivery when spending more than minimum order level when they enter a code or order from the app.

Standard delivery is 48 hours and express delivery 24 hours within its primary delivery area. However, some Scottish and Northern Ireland postcodes will see items delivered in up to 72 hours. The retailer has a relatively short returns policy, and says customers must contact it within 14 days of delivery in order to notify them if an item is no longer wanted.

Mister Auto UK’s website does not appear to have its own social media presence, but its parent company Mister Auto France has a Facebook page where it regularly poses puzzles for its followers.

The retailer, founded in 2007, is part of the French PSA Groupe and it delivers the products it sells to 19 countries via localised websites.

How Balenciaga inspires its followers across channels

Balenciaga’s austere website ranks in the leading Growth 2000 websites for both mobile and delivery. The luxury French fashion brand is among the 13% of G2K retailers that enable shoppers to order online and pick up in-store from its London store, helping it to score highly in the mobile dimension for its cross-channel services. The brand promises free standard tracked delivery in between four and six days, or express shipping in between one and three days, at a cost of £15.

Shoppers can also choose to pay a supplement for Saturday or next-day delivery.

Balenciaga offers shoppers 30 days to return an item via a pre-paid carrier service and also accepts online orders returned to its London store.

The brand is active on social media, with 1.6m followers on Facebook, where content features videos from its runway shows as well as inspiring product images. Its Twitter account has 783,000 followers, despite featuring, at the time of writing, just one tweet – dated from 2010, the year the account was opened. Its more active Instagram account, however, has 10.6m followers, where posts include images from its collections and stores, as well as many posted by fans of the brand.

This retailer appears to benefit from enormous brand awareness of a name that extends back to the first half of the 20th century, when Basque designer Cristóbal Balenciaga opened boutiques in Spain, before later moving to Paris as a result of the Spanish Civil War. Interest in the name seems to be as strong as ever today.

How Brown Bag offers its customers convenient shopping

Brown Bag menswear business stands out through the range of convenient shopping options that it offers its customers.

The discount retailer, which sells premium men’s brands on Amazon and eBay as well as through its own website, is easy to find through search – and then gives customers direct routes through clear and straightforward navigation to help them find the product that they want to buy.

Shoppers get free standard delivery in two to four days when they spend more than £75, and free next-day delivery when they spend £150, or they can opt for standard or next-day convenient click and collect wherever they live through the Hub Box network, which has 4,000 collection points.

The retailer has a targeted social media presence on Facebook, where it has more than 31,000 followers at the time of writing, on Instagram where it has 4,620 followers, and on Twitter, where it has 12,700 followers. It uses similar content across its channels, with model and product shots as well as news of the latest discounts.

Brown Bag is among the minority of G2K retailers that offer a mobile app: it has both Android and iOS apps and offers shoppers a 10% discount when they make their order that way. The retailer is keeping up with Top500 retailers, offering the services that larger rivals do in order to stay competitive. It will help that it is selling some of the big name brands that benefit from high levels of awareness.

How Master of Malt helps whisky lovers find the right items on search and social

Master of Malt stands out in Growth 2000 research for its performance in search. It uses Google shopping reviews and ratings to highlight its products in search channels, enabling customers both to rate its products through star ratings and to share them via five social channels including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It also recommends alternative products on its product page. Its Twitter page has 40,500 followers at the time of writing, while its Facebook page has more than 98,000 and its Instagram page more than 70,000. All feature the latest product imagery, including, at the time of writing, Christmas and Halloween special products as well as recent new launches.

Standard delivery is free on orders with a value of more than £99, with fast– often next-day – delivery on orders placed by 9.01pm. Under that rate, it charges a flat rate for any number of bottles to a single address. But the Tonbridge, Kent-based business does not offer click and collect. Payment options include PayPal, alongside standard credit cards.

Master in Malt was founded in 1985 with an ambition of using technology to help its customers have “the world’s best drinks-buying experience”. It has won awards from both Whisky Magazine and the International Wine & Spirit Competition.


How Petit Bateau helps parents explore its wares

Childrenswear brand Petit Bateau starts with an advantage thanks to its high levels of brand awareness. The retailer was founded in France in 1893 and claims a range of babywear innovations, including inventing the first baby bodysuits back in 1950. The international retailer has 17 international websites in all but is listed in the G2K for its UK website, which links to five social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. On Facebook, it has more than 592,000 followers on its dedicated UK channel, while on Twitter it has more than 6,000 followers on a bilingual English and French page.

It uses these pages to share lifestyle and product shots, and as a way to engage customers.

Petit Bateau helps its customers explore its wares on the website as well. From its product page, the retail brand shows both ‘complete the look’ product recommendations and ‘similar product’ recommendations. However, it doesn’t share shoppers’ product ratings and reviews.

It covers all bases with reliable but relatively slow delivery options. Shoppers can get items sent to their home in a standard four to six working days, at a cost of £4.95, or they can use click and collect services from stores within ten working days. The website has a store locator to help shoppers find their closest of 11 UK stores. A relatively generous returns policy offers customers the option of returning an item by post within 30 days or exchanging in the store within 14. Shoppers can pay via credit cards or PayPal and the brand requires them to log in or register before they place an order.



How Professional Music Technology (PMT) gets instruments in musicians’ hands fast

UK music and guitar retailer Professional Music Technology (PMT) knows that convenience and information are key to the musicians it serves. The retailer uses key social media channels to share a variety of images and information around the guitars, drums, bass, keyboards and studio equipment that it sells.

From its home page, it links to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. It has more than 67,000 followers on Facebook, where it shares deals and competitions, plus it has more than 20,000 followers on Instagram for its curated images. But its largest following is on YouTube, where more than 134,000 people have subscribed to video content that includes staff reviews and product demonstrations.

It also shares customer service-focused Trustpilot reviews and ratings from its home page. Customers can read reviews, view ratings and add a product to their wishlist from the product page.

Musicians, it seems, want a speedy and convenient service.

Shoppers can reserve online to collect items from any of its 16 stores – which they can find through a home page store locator – and pick them up in as little as an hour, where items are in stock. Next-day delivery is standard and free on orders with a value of £99 or more. Customers can nominate weekend delivery at the checkout.

If an item isn’t right, shoppers have 14 days to return an item. If they opt for courier collection, a fee is charged but with notice, shoppers can also return web orders to a store. At the time of writing, extended Christmas returns are available – items bought between December 1 and 25 can be returned until January 20, 2020. Payment can be made by card, through finance, or via PayPal checkout.

How Nelly approaches delivery, returns and social media

Leading Scandinavian fast fashion business delivers to shoppers around the world. Its UK website offers standard delivery in between three and six days, Monday to Friday and for free when shoppers spend more than £75. Payment can be made via the usual cards as well as PayPal.

If customers don’t like the item they’ve bought, they can return an item within 14 days of receiving the goods, paying a cost of £5 to do so. That’s the legal minimum time and is less generous than the Growth 2000 average of 21 days. Across the G2K as a whole, 39% of fashion clothing retailers enable shoppers to return items for free – probably reflecting the growing expectation among many fashion shoppers that it’s the norm to try something on at home before deciding whether to keep it.

When Nelly shoppers are considering what to buy, they can see both star ratings and reviews from the product page, where they can also save an item to their wishlist and click to share a product on three social media channels. engages with its shoppers beyond the website via six social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat. It has more than 865,000 followers on Facebook, where it shares lifestyle and product images, and 421,000 followers on Instagram. On Twitter, its Nelly News Feed has more than 5,800 followers but the latest tweet dates back more than a year.

How Eastpak inspires travellers

Luggage and bag company Eastpak works to inspire customers, offering a multichannel service for shoppers. Visitors to its website can easily investigate its products or use the store locator. The retailer, whose headquarters is in Switzerland, includes product details, guides to choosing the right piece of luggage or backpack, and recommended alternative products in a ‘hand picked for you’ section. However, it does not offer star ratings or reviews.

Once shoppers have decided to buy, they can pay using PayPal as well as the usual cards. They can also track their delivery. Standard, tracked delivery takes two or four days and is free, but next working day delivery is charged at premium prices (£12 at the time of writing). Shoppers can also choose to pick up their online order from the store using click and collect. Returns are free within 30 days, and items are guaranteed for 30 years.

The retailer enables shoppers to follow it on four social media channels. It has 1.1m followers on Facebook, where it shares lifestyle images and videos covering subject from its values to gift guides. It has 5,700 followers on Twitter and 180,000 on Instagram, where it uses images to inspire. Its YouTube channel has 3,820 subscribers, at the time of writing, who can watch videos covering subjects from travel advice to how to pack their Eastpak luggage. However, not all of these social platforms are regularly updated – its latest postings on Twitter and YouTube were more than a year old at the time of research.

How Cult Furniture communicates its products

Cult Furniture tells website visitors all about its products. In-depth product information sits alongside reviews and star ratings, while the retailer is also signed up to Google Customer Reviews, showing its 4.4 star rating from its home page. Shoppers can save an item to their wishlist and share products via three social media channels – Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter – from the product page.

Delivery times and costs are flagged up from the product page, so that shoppers know how long they’re likely to need to wait. Stock levels are also shown. Items that can be seen in its showrooms are flagged, while browsers can also click to ask a question from the product page.

Delivery charges and times vary but the retailer says that it dispatches in-stock items within 48 hours and shoppers are likely to receive them within 72 hours (five days), yet some orders can take up to ten days. Returns can be made for up to 30 days, with a minimum charge of £9.95.

The retailer has more than 150,000 followers on Facebook, more than 66,400 on Instagram, and more than 2,000 on Twitter. It shares inspirational furniture images across these social media channels.

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