E-commerce is not all about providing technology to facilitate online sales and transactions, it’s also about enabling data-driven personalised content to enrich the customer experience, Fusion Retail Brand’s CIO claims.
Ian Wright told the audience at this year’s Online Retailer Conference and E-commerce Expo in Sydney that e-commerce teams should look to simplify and integrate back-end systems, as well as deliver personalised content to customers, if they want to be successful in meeting the needs of today’s digital consumer.
Fusion Retail Brands supports multiple storefronts for iconic brands Colorado, JAG, Mathers, Diana Ferrari and Williams. In September 2012, the retail company decided it needed to move its online stores onto an integrated platform that could enhance the customer experience while reducing the costs associated with managing the websites.
“We want to implement an e-commerce strategy that our customers would tell their friends and family about,” Wright said.
Fusion Retail Brands chose EPiServer because it allowed staff with different levels of capability to easily operate off one e-commerce platform for the five websites. The solution also had content management, a promotion and marketing system and capital management features built in.
The project is expected to be fully rolled out by the end of September, with the new Diana Ferrari online store to go live next week. The total cost of the project is about $1.2 million, which includes a mobile version of each of the stores. Wright said the online stores generate $7 to 8 million a year and expected the investment to be returned within a year.
Wright said the old disparate Web stores were time consuming and costly to manage and support, and didn’t offer the flexibility to add new features or functions.
“They sold product, that’s all they did. There was no future in just being able to do that,” he said. “If we wanted to do anything with those Web stores, we would have had to put a lot of time, effort and cost into making it do one thing. It’s not sustainable. But they served the purpose; they got us online quickly, got us selling online quickly. Those Web stores were produced in eight to 12 weeks each.”
The rigidity of the old system meant the company was not able to easily innovate, and was potentially missing out on 50 per cent more revenue, Wright estimated.
"If we look at JAG since it launched [online], sales were 30 to 40 per cent comparable growth and that’s with a brand re-launch as well. So we are talking about a 20- to 25-year old product going to our old customers with just 40 per cent online growth." He predicted this should grow significantly using the new platform.
With the old system, customers also had to go through a long checkout process, as well as trawl and search the website in order to find what they want, resulting in large dropout rates, Wright said.
“With our five websites all on a single platform we can come down from eight pages per visit on average to four and a half,” he explained. “That’s the thing I think is proving to be the conversion increaser of the modern e-commerce store: Actually just making it easier to purchase as opposed to just trying to sell more, add more, tell them more.”
Fusion Retail Brands is also changing its discounts-based approach to a customer loyalty scheme. The new e-commerce platform will allow the organisation to collect more data on customers through a member database. This then can be used to tailor products and personalise the customer experience, further encouraging loyalty, Wright claimed.
“Loyal customers, for us, are out best customers; they spend 35 to 40 per cent more per transaction than our non-loyal customers. We can have weeks where our loyal customers make up 75 per cent of our total sales,” he said.
Wright said the platform has been designed so that marketing has full control and ownership over the content and data being produced. IT will still work closely with marketing in helping analyse the data.
“If marketing wanted to invest two hours they could change that platform every five minutes if they wanted to,” Wright said. “They can send out an email telling people about a new product every couple of hours, push a promotion to the mobile app every 20 minutes, and they don’t need to ask anyone in IT for help.”
Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett
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