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Schuh: how service makes a difference (CR15)

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Schuh led the field in The Customer Performance Dimension – and the multichannel footwear retailer says its success is fuelled by a real belief in customer service.

“We differentiate ourselves with the level of service we offer,” said Stuart McMillan, deputy head of ecommerce at Schuh, speaking at Internet Retailing Expo 2015.

That means all emails are answered within 90 minutes, the company aims to answer tweets as quickly as possible, and site performance is a top priority.

The IRUK 500 research into The Customer Performance Dimension reflects this: it found Schuh had an Index Value of 299, out of a possible 300, reflecting exemplary site performance, customer service and Twitter responsiveness.

The company has invested in technology, introducing a responsive-design website developed in-house and which enables easier purchasing no matter what device the shopper is using. That’s important because many Schuh customers interact entirely with the brand via mobile.

In the design phase, said McMillan, mobile-first was the first among a list of priorities that also included making the site fast, SEO-friendly and with HTML that had to be the same for all variations. “It’s technically difficult to downscale an experience to mobile because of hardware challenges, including the slow connection, small screen and slower hardware,” said McMillan. “Mobile is the baseline.”

He added that when it comes to site speed, perception is everything. “It’s not about the numbers but how the user perceives the speed of the site – how quick does it feel?”

Ten months after launch, the conversion rate on desktop had risen by 25%, on tablet by 30% and on mobile by 45%. From here, the company now plans to evolve the site starting with the user experience. “Too often,” said McMillan, “it starts with a project and then there’s a design layer. We want to start with designing the user experience and projects will come out of that.”

Asked what advice he had for others looking at a similar move to introduce responsive design, he had a list of suggestions. They include using analytics to track error messages as events. In this way, developers see errors as they come in and can makes changes before the site goes live. Then, remember the network layer is the bottleneck – it’s important to optimise for available bandwidth.

But ultimately, he said: “This isn’t a crusade for responsive design, but for good, user-centric design. It’s important to really think about your users.”

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