Here at Leapfrogg, we’re constantly immersing ourselves in the world of retail in order develop knowledge of the premium shopper, their needs, and the challenges retailers face in meeting them.
In light of this, our Managing Director, Rosie recently arranged a ‘Skill Swap’ session with new luxury bed linen etailer Secret Linen Store who popped into Leapfrogg to share their retail experience with us in exchange for the opportunity to pick our brains on all things digital and customer experience.
The session was really insightful, so I thought I’d share a few insights from the session starting with the questions we asked The Secret Linen Store and their responses…
LF: How do you plan for seasonal peaks in revenue, activity and products? How far in advance are you able to plan?
SLS: As a new retailer, we’re still learning about seasonality as this year was our first year of trading. So far, we’ve found out that Christmas doesn’t really affect linen purchases and that our busiest period is by far the January and summer sales.
In an ideal world, we’d start plan our marketing six months in advance, but at the moment it’s actually more like three months. We’ve found that volumes of stock shift a lot, with some products selling well and then dropping off dramatically. We’re currently running new analysis on page view vs. sales to determine if people are looking at products but not purchasing them. If we spot a product just isn’t working then we will quickly remove it from our line.
We have four product launches per year and we’re currently focusing on contemporary lines and building our collections around design and colour as these products have proved the most popular. Our products have a three month lead time which can be a challenge when trying to respond to customer demand. PR has also had a huge impact on our sales – for example a recent article in the Daily Telegraph on 600 thread count sheets saw our products fly of the shelves!
LF: How do you use data to provide a more personalised experience for your customers and which specific data driven actions have had the biggest impact on conversion rate?
SLS: It’s still very early days for us in terms of personalisation. We’ve recently signed up to an email marketing data company called Rais which links our Magento website to Mailchimp and segments our data by date, purchase frequency, customer location and life time value. We’re looking forward to seeing how we can use this data to make our email marketing more targetted.
LF: How much qualitative insight do you currently have about your customers and how are you planning on expanding that in the future to deliver the best possible experience for your customers?
SLS: Customer reviews are really important to us and we often change our products based on customer feedback. For example, we recently altered our pillow designs as we discovered that our customers didn’t like the seam being in the middle in case you wanted to turn your pillow over. We often use Survey Monkey to gather customer insight which is really valuable to us. We‘ve recently conducted some postcode analysis and found that our customers come from a wide sector and there is no bias towards one area.
LF: What do you think the main challenges are for specialist online-only retailers today?
SLS: Our biggest drawback as an online-only bed linen retailer is that our customers cannot see or feel our products. We offer samples, but we’ve actually found that 85% of our customers buy without ordering a sample and our return rate is quite low at 6%. We definitely recommend offering free returns as this definitely boosts sales.
As a small team, we lack manpower. We have to do everything ourselves and it often means we can’t move as quickly as we’d like. We’ve just initiated Google’s way of planning called ‘OKR’s’ which stand for Objectives and Key Results which definitely helps us get stuff done and work more efficiently. We’d recommend this way of working.
LF: Have you had any bad press or bad customer feedback? How does that make you feel and what actions have you made to improve the customer experience?
SLS: Luckily we’ve never had bad press but have a couple of customers whose orders weren’t as they expected. We take our customer’s experience of Secret Linen Store very seriously and always address their issues quickly and consequently have turned unhappy customers into very happy ones! I think it’s really important to focus on customer service as a new online retailer in order to provide a good customer experience that encourages loyalty and repeat purchases.
LF: Knowing what you now know, if you did it all again, what would be the one thing you would change that would make the biggest difference to your business?
SLS: We would have focused more on brand and content from the beginning and consequently made our website experience much more engaging and user friendly. We aspire to content-led websites such as Mr Porter, AndOtherStories, Everlane and Spoke and would love to develop a similar experience for our customers.
Big thanks to Secret Linen Store for coming in and chatting to us. Watch this space for our second post to find out what happened when the tables were turned and Secret Linen Store picked our brains about digital marketing and customer experience…