Beautiful pages and an overall sophisticated feel are the winning ingredients helping Hotel Chocolat to tempt customers into buying through its new website, designed for desktop, mobile and tablet. Styling itself as a “hedonistic chocolate” company, the UK retailer has focused on seductive images of delicious chocolate and sophisticated, uncluttered pages as the basis of its merchandising approach, although there are plenty of other treats in store for its online customers to discover.
Earlier this year, the company announced pre-tax profits of £11.2m in the six month run-up to Christmas 2016, a 28% increase on the previous year. “The critical Christmas period was very successful, helped by good availability, popular and innovative new ranges and significantly increased digital transactions,” said Angus Thirwell, co-founder and CEO of the company. The company has since redesigned its website to build on its online success.
Christmas, along with the other key merchandising holidays of Easter, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, are peak periods for the retailer, which is reflected in the amount of date-specific promotions on the site. As you would expect, a main focus is its gift delivery service. This includes a bespoke ‘gift creator’ option that allows customers to create gift boxes and hampers before choosing the right delivery option. These include a ‘letterbox friendly’ option that’s handy for ensuring a gift is delivered on that special day, even if the recipient isn’t at home.
The appeal of the gift service is further enhanced by wide-ranging options for stylish bags and packaging, as well as a good choice of cards that accompany the chocolate with your personalised message. Customers also have the ability to save boxes and hampers to a wishlist, which can be shared with others and returned to at a later date. Product dimensions and ingredients are clearly listed for each item, while customer reviews are given prominence.
Another key merchandising strand is the subscriber service. As the likes of Netflix have shown, these services have grown massively in popularity in recent years. Hotel Chocolat got in early with its own offering, launching its Tasting Club in 1999. This now has 70,000 members and the company is continuing to focus on this as an area of promotion, with opportunities to check out the benefits of subscription woven through the site. Membership offers a regular sample product delivery (which can be put on hold when required) as well as a wide variety of other exclusive member-only products.