HOUSE OF FRASER listened to its customers to develop new ways of selling online and across channels. By engaging with shoppers through its award-winning voice of the customer technology, the department store is able, says Andy Harding , executive director, multichannel, to gain very tangible insights into the way they think. “This framework enables us to think very seriously about what customers are doing, what they’re going to do and what they tell us they want to do,” he said, speaking to InternetRetailing Conference 2014.
It was just such mapping of customer behaviour that led House of Fraser, judged a Leading company in the Brand and Engagement Dimension of IRUK 500, 2015, to invest in its touch-first website, launched last year, which prioritises design for smartphone and tablet computer ahead of desktop.
“Two years before it happened, we spotted that in June or July 2013, we would see the crossover by our customers moving from desktop devices to touchscreen devices,” said Harding, “so we started to think we could fundamentally change the business and the way we think about development. By 2013 we announced we had seen that happen, and that we were well on the way to developing our first touch-first website. We’ve seen huge increases in conversion, big increases in traffic and as a result. But what’s most interesting is that desktop conversion improves as well because the simplicity and cleanliness of the new design has resonated really well with desktop users. The key was thinking about the customer and how they wanted to use it.”
The move has boosted sales: House of Fraser figures show customers who shop via stores, website and mobile spend more than three times as much as a shopper who only visits the store. House of Fraser therefore works to encourage customers to shop across channels. Its mobile app, for example, can be accessed in store through free wi-fi. Once it detects that wi-fi is being used in store, it flips into an in-store mode that shows functionality specific to that particular branch, from stock levels to navigation maps.
The voice of the customer system also enables the retailer to differentiate itself from competitors. From those insights, House of Fraser learned the brands it sold were its among its best assets, something that customers were passionate about. Asked whether they wanted to shop by brand or by department, customers chose brand, and the website is now organised accordingly. “It’s about leveraging our best assets and giving ourselves a point of difference,” says Harding. House of Fraser has also learned from customers to introduce new, fast delivery services, as well as the buy and collect services located first in stockless stores in Aberdeen and Liverpool and, most recently, in a Cambridge branch of Caffè Nero.