Leapfrogg announces five new client wins

During the first quarter of this year, we’ve been successful in winning a number of fantastic retail clients and I thought I should take the opportunity to tell you about them and the exciting work that we will be doing.

First and foremost, we are delighted to have been appointed by The Dune Group – a global leader in fashion footwear and accessories with 46 UK stores, concessions in a number of high street retailers and available in a further 12 countries around the world.

Last year, we ran a workshop to help Dune’s team to work in a more joined up way where content is concerned. Following this work, Dune has appointed us to help them develop their broader natural search strategy with the aim to increase brand awareness, traffic and customer acquisition.

We’ll be supporting Dune to bring greater structure to their content strategy by helping their internal teams to work in a more cohesive way and develop a more creative, joined-up approach to their natural search, integrating in-house content, online PR, blogger outreach and social media activity.

Another new client in the footwear sector is G.H Bass. Founded in 1878, G.H Bass is an American heritage footwear brand best known for creating the iconic ‘Weejan’ – the worlds first penny loafer.

Currently G.H Bass shoes are stocked in Office, Schuh and ASOS and we’ll be working with them to increase their online brand awareness and customer acquisition as they launch their direct to consumer channel in the UK, followed by other European countries later in the year.

Moving on from footwear to fireplaces, we’ve been appointed by Chesney’s – the UK’s leading supplier of luxury fireplaces and stoves – to ‘ignite’ their digital strategy. We’re currently working through our insight and strategy phase, planning activity website optimisation, content, online PR and blogger outreach, social media and paid search.

Over in the fashion sector, new brands The Cult and Classic and The Vampire’s Wife have also appointed us as their digital marketing partner.

The Cult and Classic is a brand new luxury fashion website which offers a carefully curated selection of premium labels such as Bella Freud, Antipodium and Rupert Sanderson. We have been appointed to look after their full digital strategy and support optimisation of their new website which launched fully last week.

Last but not least, we’re also working with The Vampire’s Wife, an exciting new fashion brand to deliver social media and content support as they launch their first collection later this year.

We look forward to supporting these great brands in 2015 and beyond!

Net-A-Porter new shopping social network – ‘The Net Set

Last week, luxury fashion retailer Net-A-Porter launched its eagerly anticipated new social shopping network called ‘The Net Set’ labelled ‘the social shopping network we have all been waiting for.’

As a luxury brand that never devalues its products by offering discounts and offers (apart from their end of season sales), Net-A-Porter’s strategy has always been to focus on creating the very best customer experience and creating loyal customer advocates. This is evident from their launch of Porter magazine last year which blurred the boundaries between content and commerce. In some ways, The Net Set is an extension of this and seeks to create an interactive and inspirational experience for its customers.

In a nutshell, The Net Set allows you to virtually shop with the most stylish women on the planet, including the likes of Poppy Delevigne and Laura Bailey, as well as a community of like-minded fashion fans, sorted into ‘style tribes.’ Features include being able to shop any item directly from the app, and if you upload your own style or outfit, their image recognition tool will find similar styles for you to shop.

Here at Leapfrogg, we obviously love shopping and all things social, so our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah and I wasted no time in downloading the app and giving it a whirl.

Currently the app is invite only and after signing up their website, we received a code to register. By being invite only, Net-A-Porter is perhaps creating an air of exclusivity and buzz around the app and also slowly building up its user numbers. It has launched with 15,000 community members to make sure that the initial offering feels meaningful. For now it will remain invite only, with Net-A-Porter shoppers extended the first invitation and the ability to invite five friends. Pinterest started out in a similar way and now is open to all with over 78.8 million users.

The app itself reflects the look and feel of shopping on Net-a-Porter which is minimal and stylish with their signature black and white branding. The only pops of the colour come from the products themselves which allows them to really take the spotlight.

Signing up was simple and we were given the options of personalising the app in six short steps which included which designers to ‘admire’, style tribes to join, and the option to add products to your wish list called a ‘Love List’ .

designers

There are 13 high-profile designers featured on the app at the moment, and seeing as they stock hundreds I would expect them to be adding more as time goes on. A key feature of the app is that you can discover products and then purchase them within the app itself. The checkout process was very straight forward and the purchase journey is clear, but it could perhaps be made more user-friendly. Apparently, Natalie Massenet created the app as she believes digital shopping is quickly moving to mobile devices with 40% of Net-a-Porter’s transactions taking place on mobile. “The Net Set was essentially us entirely rethinking Net-a-Porter, as if we were building it from scratch today,” she says. “We created it with the expectations of the new socially connected consumer and the latest technology in mind.”

We couldn’t see any video content, which is a shame as their website features videos of their products in use, so it would have been a nice touch to see this integrated into the app and would convey a lot of information easily.

The feature I liked most about the app was the image recognition technology which allows you to upload an image of any kind to the app – whether it be a person, print or an inspiring image which is then matched to their product inventory providing further areas for exploration. For example, uploading an image of our office dog, Nora, brings up a selection of products which match her colouring if you’ve ever fancied emulating her glossy black coat (who wouldn’t!) I imagine this would be great feature if you have a colour or pattern you’ve spotted and want to find something similar. However, I couldn’t see a way to filter these products down or find complementary items that don’t necessarily colour match.

nora

All in all though, we really enjoyed using The Net Set and imagine we will be checking in frequently. It’s a great way to enhance the experience of shopping with Net-A-Porter and discovering products. It will be interesting to see how people use the app, as given the price point of Net-a-Porter products, it’s certainly not a place for impulse purchases. I imagine people will use it more for discovery, saving items they like and purchasing later on or using for inspiration to find similar items elsewhere.

 

Key takeaways from SheerB2B – a conversation with the customer

Last week saw SheerLuxe host their annual SheerB2B conference at The Worx in Parsons Green.

This is a great event which focuses on all areas of digital marketing for the premium & luxury sector. Leapfrogg have been a headline sponsor for five years and it’s one of our favourite events of the year to meet and network with people working across our niche sector.

This year was no exception and we were particularly pleased that the theme of this year’s conference was “customer centricity” in marketing as it’s a subject we’re passionate about. The two day event featured a fantastic line of speakers from retailers and brands as well as expert suppliers.

In this post, I have pulled out the key takeaways and highlights that I found most interesting from the conference.

Who is the luxury buyer in 2015?

First up on day one was Lara Bonney from Abacus who shared their recent findings on the luxury customer in 2015. Here are some of the key insights she shared:

73% of wealthy consumers identified “luxury” as “superior quality,” and they expect the experience of buying a luxury product to be as good as owning it. They seek exclusivity and stylish stores as well as a close relationship with sales assistants. They also believe it is worth paying more for quality items.

Less than a quarter of luxury consumers buy online BUT 50% research the items they want to buy online. 7 out of 10 consumers used social media in 2014 and 50% of them used Facebook.

Lara also talked about the importance of the catalogue as part of the luxury shopping experience using Boden as an example who saw a 30% increase in response from personalising their catalogues.

She also explained that many premium brands assume their customers are women where in fact in many cases over 50% are men! This was a recurring theme across the conference – never assume you know what your customers want and gain insight by asking them questions to really understand them.

We couldn’t agree more!

Grow your business with customer-centric strategies

Maria Hatzistefanis, the founder of Rodial Skincare, spoke about the need to connect properly with your customer. Maria explained how Rodial designed their packaging to appeal to their customers and picked highly effective brand ambassadors. She explained how celebrity Kylie Jenner had created a huge amount of brand awareness for Rodial as a brand ambassador after using the product and tweeting about it.

At Leapfrogg we absolutely agree that selecting the right brand ambassadors to connect with your customer is crucial, but we also believe that you should be joining the dots between all content producing and marketing teams in your business to ensure you’re making the most of your relationships to produce content across all channels.

Create effective blogger outreach strategies

Anna Hart is a blogger who runs a network called Pitch & Post to help connect brands with relevant bloggers and in her talk she shared some great insights into what bloggers really want from brands:

  • Exposure: bloggers utilise relationships with brands to grow their own following and keep them current in their readers’ minds
  • Revenue: bloggers can’t pay bills with free shoes! Be prepared to pay them what they are worth
  • Product: bloggers blog because they are passionate about what they write about. Giving them access to products is therefore a real incentive as long as it is done legally!
  • Strong images: provide bloggers with great visual content they can use. It costs them money to create themselves.
  • Fun opportunities: be interesting and fun to work with!

Anna’s tips on how to treat bloggers included:

  • Treat them as you would a media partner with long term content plans as well as immediate needs
  • Consider that bloggers need paying for at least 50% of their content
  • Always ask to see analytics of their blog to help you value their worth to you!

Get the basics right

Joanna from ReynoldsBushyLee spoke about many of the mistakes that retailers make in customer experience – a great reminder of how brands really do need to get the basics right online! She also had the best quote of the day from Ghandi:
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.

He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it.

We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Tailor your marketing to millennials

Marketing Consultant, Jennifer Roebuck, spoke brilliantly about marketing to millennials and broke many myths of how people perceive the younger generations.

She split the large group of millennials into two groups; The Entrepreneur and The Multitasker. The Entrepreneur is aged 18 – 25 and is engaged with global issues and a desire to be creative. The Entrepreneur is keen to lead a balanced career and identifies with beauty that is effortless.

The Multitasker is aged 25 – 35 years old lives life with purpose and wants to make the world a better place. They want rewarding experiences in life but will manage their finances carefully.

Therefore marketing to this more thoughtful generation is very different to the brash and possession focused Gen X. Brands must have purpose other than making money, be savvy yet approachable and be hugely personal to the people who buy from them. Luxury brands wanting to sell to this younger set take note!

Customer experience is the most exciting opportunity for retailers

Peter Abraham from Econsultancy talked us through their recent research on the ‘Pillars of Successful Ecommerce’. Here are the most interesting facts:
22% of businesses view “Customer Experience” as the most exciting opportunity for their business over the next five years.

The main business benefits of customer experience optimisation are:

• Higher engagement and conversion rates
• Better brand perception & loyalty
• Renewal, cross-sell and upsell
Customers who are personalising web experiences are seeing an average 19% uplift in sales.
We have been preaching the importance of customer experience for a number of years so were very pleased to see large scale research backing up our opinion.

Ensure digital and direct marketing work in unison

Rosemary Stockdale from Sterling Marketing gave a very interesting talk on the importance of the printed catalogue within the marketing mix for luxury and premium retailers and brands.

She shared insight from Royal Mail that showed that 51% of consumers prefer a combination of mail and email from the brands they shop with and 57% of consumers feel more valued by a brand that sends them a catalogue.
She spoke about Net-a-Porter’s brilliant ‘Porter’ magazine highlighting that 83% of its 32k subscribers said the magazine was the number one influence in helping them decide what to buy online.
She also talked us through how online fashion retailer, Atterley Road launched a publication on a much smaller budget which has helped launch their own brand range and has increased customer spend and retention.
As an agency we push continually to ensure digital marketing ties in very closely with direct as we know that a combined approach can lead to far higher AOV and repeat purchase.

Personalisation is key

Ben Blackwell from Oka spoke about how Oka used a simple solution from Nostra to personalise the online experience for their customers. This tool helped OKA group relevant products together and offer additional products leading to an increase in AOV on the site of 33% and an increase in conversion rate of 24%.
Neither of those are to be sniffed at and all smaller retailers can use tools like these at an affordable entry cost to start seeing immediate results!

Use customer insight to make decisions

Becky Hardman from Shop Direct talked the audience through how Shop Direct used its huge wealth of customer data and insight to launch their new premium brand Very Exclusive.

Access to customer  data allowed Very Exclusive to create a specific set of personas to target for their launch. Here at Leapfrogg, we are huge advocates of using customer personas to engage with your customer.
She also spoke about the need to create very different visuals for the premium and high fashion customer and how they created a different style of photographs for their products that focussed on style rather than model. This also fed through to the premium packaging they have introduced to offer a more premium experience.

You don’t need huge budgets like to Shop Direct to do this. There are many ways to find out more about your customers at low cost just by asking them!

 

Phew! Well the above is only a small selection of the great insight that was shared at the event. It was great to see so many brands and suppliers sharing the view that understanding your customer and putting them at the heart of your business and marketing really is the way to succeed today, particularly in the premium and luxury market.

This is a view we have had at Leapfrogg for a long time now and why the ethos for everything we do is to make our clients’ customers happy, by delivering premium digital experiences that meet our clients’ customers’ needs and desires.

 

Until next year!

Are your customers willing to share data for a personalised experience?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of more than 800 premium retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

With the strong message that retailers and brands must personalise their marketing to their customers and thus need to find out more and more about their customers, we asked our panel how much information they were happy to share with retailers.

We asked whether the panel to rate for a number of personal details whether they “expected” them to know, “didn’t mind” them knowing, or “would rather they didn’t” know.
Our results showed that the vast majority of consumers really don’t mind how much you know about them!

Personalisation

As you can see from the charts above, a majority of respondents expect you to know a great deal about them in order to deliver a personalised experience.

The details that most consumers “expect” you to know about them are their preferred payment method and interestingly their size both with 23% of respondents stating that they would want a retailer to know.

Opinion was most divided over whether a retailer should know your address with 21% expecting the retailers they buy from to know it, but also 38% of consumers said that they would rather they didn’t know. This is interesting as purchases cannot be delivered without an address being given and usually it saves a lot of time when ordering if the retailer saves your address.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid of asking your customers for personal details. Requesting this information will not alienate your customers and in many cases being able to personalise their shopping experience will put you in a favourable light with those who buy from you!

The Hype: what’s hot and happening in premium retail this month?

 

 

Welcome to The Hype – our monthly digest of the hottest products, trends and innovations from the world of premium and luxury retail, hand-picked by our Premium Panel.

 

 

Lilly Pulitzer for Target

Last month, U.S discount retailer, Target, launched their highly-anticipated collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer, – a brand best known for its fun prints and chic resort wear. The 250 piece collection featured an affordable line of brightly printed clothing, homewares and cosmetics all created in Pulitzer’s distinctive neon prints.

However, within hours (even minutes in some locations), the collection almost entirely sold out, in stores and online and according to Target, it was one of the fastest-selling collaborations it has undertaken. This caused disappointment and outrage as shoppers discovered they couldn’t shop the items they had lusted after. Unsurprisingly, many items also appeared on eBay for more than double the original price.

The collaboration came under criticism from some fashion devotees think these collaborations are ruining the brands’ luxury aesthetic and the limited amount of product is simply a shrewd marketing ploy to create more demand for the brands.

H&M Exclusive Conscious

H&M is another brand that is well known for its sell-out designer collaborations. Last month, they launched a new collection of party wear as an extension to their existing successful Conscious collection. Entitled Conscious Exclusive, the debut range features an array of evening-appropriate clothing and accessories for both men and women. Each piece has been created from sustainable materials, including organic cotton, recycled polyamide and Tencel. The collection was modelled by actress Olivia Wilde, and unsurprisingly sold out online within a few hours. However, I spotted that since the launch, there are still limited pieces of the collection available online.

Endource launches

Last month, I also noticed the launch of a new fashion website called Endource.com which was created by the co-founder of holiday website Secret Escapes.

Endource.com scours magazine websites and influential fashion blogs to bring shoppers the ultimate fashion directory that has been editor-approved, with the aim of replicating the experience of shopping with a personal stylist. If you follow fashion magazine’s and bloggers, then this website is the perfect place to find the most covetable and endorsed products in the fashion world.

Condé Nast to Transform Style.com into Global E-Commerce Player

Over the last few months, we’ve seen many traditional content creators realise their potential power to sell and evolve themselves into ecommerce platforms. Grazia famously bought London Boutiques, to develop its own branded ecommerce offering and now Condé Nast have followed suit and have announced that Style.com will be the home of their new ecommerce business.

The new platform – which is the first of its kind for the publisher – will launch this autumn in Britain and sell merchandise to consumers, including readers and users of its magazines and websites such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, targeting fashion brands as well as upmarket brands from other sectors such as beauty, travel services and technology.

Marks and Spencer’s sell-out suede skirt

Every year has its ‘It’ item and in 2013, Marks and Spencer’s pink duster coat caused a fashion frenzy, and now their brown suede skirt is fast becoming the must-have item for Spring 2015.

The 1970’s-style suede skirt with a price tag of £199 goes on sale later this month and currently has a waiting list of over 3,500 people. Demand has been so high that five times the original amount has been produced to satisfy requests. To cater to demand, Marks & Spencer have also set up a sign up page for the skirt until it’s release date.

The skirt received a huge amount of exposure on social media after fashionista’s Olivia Palamo and Alexa Chung were both spotted wearing it and it consequently featured in magazines such as Vogue, Red and Glamour which created a huge amount of social buzz.

The hype around the skirt will be regarded as a major success for the M&S, who are aiming to improve their fashion credentials to improve sales. Although a single item cannot save a struggling retailer, high-profile hits such as this will definitely help improve their brand image and appeal to a wider audience who may not necessarily shop there.

A review of the last few months in premium retail

As we’ve come to the end of the first quarter of the year, I’ve asked our Director’s to reflect on the past couple of months in retail and share the trends and common threads we’ve noticed across our retail clients and the sector as a whole.

 

 

 

 

Rosie FreshwaterRosie Freshwater, Managing Director

Customer-centric marketing

Over the last couple of months, I have seen a continued trend towards customer-centric marketing with more brands quite rightly putting their customers at the heart of their marketing strategy. Retailers are waking up to the importance of combining data and insight in order to understand who their customers are and the experience they desire. I feel there has been a big shift from retailers making assumptions about their customers to investing in data insight to show them an accurate picture. However, many retailers still aren’t spending enough on data and are consequently unable to make changes to their customer experience.

Mobile websites

With the arrival of ‘Mobilegeddon’ (Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update) and the continued growth of mobile, we’ve seen many retailers dedicate more budget to mobile and ensure their websites are well optimised. Having a mobile-friendly site is now critical. We have noticed more customers using their mobiles for browsing on the way to and from work and in the evenings, they are multi-screening on both their tablet and mobile. In the forthcoming months, we can expect to see a stream of new initiatives available to marketers in terms of paid search and online specifically for mobile.

Engaging content

We’ve seen the trend for creating engaging content continue to grow and retailers are becoming much more consistent across all channels. We’ve recently been examining how retailers are creating customer engagement through content in our recent engagement reports and have found many retailers have a disparate content strategy across their social channels and are often creating content with little or no engagement. Forward thinking brands have kept their customers at the heart and are using insight about their customers to create cohesive content strategies around specific customer segments.

Email marketing

We’ve also seen a shift in the use of email marketing thanks to customer segmentation. Abandoned basket emails are still popular as are post-purchase communications and we’ve seen more retailers use past purchase data to ensure they are promoting relevant products. The most popular form of email marketing is for retention, but it’s also a strong acquisition tool if you invest in growing your mailing list. This is a great mechanism to capture those who are interested in your products so you can market to them whilst they make purchasing decisions.

Challenges

A key challenge for retailers has been the growing expectations of consumers. They expect a seamless and personalised shopping experience and it’s a long term investment for retailers to meet those expectations. As the economy starts to feel more positive, I hope to see more retailers making longer term investments in experience to create long term value. Many marketing decisions in recent years have been made for the short term gain – often at a cost to long term profit and customer loyalty. Change will involve technology and a cultural shift and hopefully retailers will feel more confident about doing this.

Strive for a single customer view

I’ve seen many retailers struggle to combine multiple data sources to create the single customer view. The big retailers are starting to see progress in this area, but for smaller retailers it can be a challenge due to budget constraints. My advice would be to begin doing this bit by bit. Start by understanding the online customer and tailor your marketing activity towards them. Then combine that insight with in-store data. In the meantime, take small pockets of data and try to extrapolate out.

Looking forward

Over the next coming months, I’d like to see more suppliers to the retail industry working more closely together to provide a full customer experience service. As retailers grow their customer experience teams, those teams will start to look for suppliers that can help across multiple aspects of the customer experience and so those agencies and suppliers that are geared up to collaborate closely on projects across multiple customer touchpoints will be in high demand.

 

Ben PotterBen Potter, Commercial Director

I’ve noticed the needs of some larger retailers are changing where their search agency is concerned. Often retailers have people internally all doing (in the main) great stuff in content creation, PR and social media (all essential components of a contemporary natural search strategy).

However, the activity is often managed by disparate teams and therefore not aligned and working towards overall business objectives (or even towards more granular natural search goals). Such silos are the enemy of an integrated search strategy so we are increasingly finding our role is changing. Rather than being responsible for execution, brands with in-house teams are looking for Leapfrogg to advise at a more strategic level, to help facilitate change and deliver training. This might include helping the client to put in place the necessary framework, team structure, processes and guidelines to align and maximise the impact of in-house content, social and PR activity.

We are not necessarily saying that in-house teams are set up to do everything themselves. There will always be gaps. But in a lot of cases we are finding larger clients are not looking for a fully outsourced solution in the traditional sense. They require a partner that can be flexible, adding value in the most appropriate fashion. This highlights something that I said in one of my Econsultancy posts back in 2012 – that natural search cannot be purchased and delivered as a commoditised, packaged service. Every business is entirely unique in terms of their agency requirements, determined primarily by their objectives and in-house resource/expertise. Only by building an understanding of the retailers business, sector, products, competitive landscape, internal resource or offline marketing activity can an agency deliver exactly what the client needs, which is often different to what they think they want.

 

Lucy FreebornLucy Freeborn, Insight & Strategy Director

The most exciting development I’ve seen in premium retail over the past few months has been the evolution of content strategy AS retail strategy.

Although data, wrapped in insight, smothered in relevant content, has been at the heart of a good digital marketing strategy for a good couple of years now, informed content strategy as an ecommerce strategy is starting to be taken seriously by those brands with vision and the ambition to invest in creative and practical resource.

Trail blazer, Mr Porter has has this ‘Content as an Ecommerce’ platform nailed for a little while now; I certainly always look to them for a bit of lifestyle inspiration. But more mainstream brands have been developing this forward thinking, natural-search-proofed, social-media-gold-plated strategy on the quiet for the past few months. Farrow & Ball is one of my favourite brands who is doing ecommerce content well at the moment. What started at “shoppable content” a couple of years ago has become a fully fledged stand alone retail strategy in itself.

Indeed, we’re also starting to see one of the most exciting (and game changing) shifts in ecommerce content, as the traditional content creators realise their potential power to sell and evolve themselves into ecommerce platforms. Grazia famously bought London Boutiques, (one of our previous clients!) to develop its own branded ecommerce offering and I’m really looking forward to the launch of Conde Nast’s long-anticipated e-commerce venture later this year under the company’s existing brand Style.com. What could be a bigger threat to those retail brands working hard to become inspirational homes for content, than those already established homes for inspirational content, becoming retailers?

Indeed, as print publishing becomes a much more cut throat game, print advertising budgets are slashed and readerships drop, how else can those big publishers survive?

If understanding your customer is central to developing a solid retail strategy, then who’s better to develop a compelling retail offer, than those who have been developing a relationship with their reader for years. A flurry of publishing houses entering the retail landscape, I think, will shake things up for the better.

‘Skill Swap’ session with Secret Linen Store

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…

Secret Line Store Bed Linen

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…

The Hype: what’s hot and happening in premium retail?

Welcome to The Hype – a monthly digest of the hottest products, trends and innovations from the world of premium and luxury retail, hand-picked by our Premium Panel.

Apple Watch launch

On the 24th of April, the long-awaited Apple Watch Sport, Watch and Watch Edition will go on sale. There are three different models on offer in two different sizes and prices range from £299 to an eye-watering £13,500. In addition to telling the time through a range of customisable clock faces, the Apple Watch offers notifications, health and fitness tracking and new ways to communicate with others. Several apps will be available on the Watch too, including Siri, Messages and Maps along with information pulled from calendars and email. There’s been very mixed opinions on the Watch especially from the fashion world who have viewed the watch as a gadget, rather than this season’s must-have accessory. Whatever your opinion, it’s guaranteed to cause chaos outside Apple stores across the globe when it launches in a few weeks.

The Cult and Classic

This month sees the launch of The Cult & Classic, a new womenswear e-commerce site. Having gone live with a preview site on March 18th, the official launch is scheduled on April 15th. Founder Beth Wallace, who was previously Michael van der Ham’s Business Partner, selects labels ranging from emerging talent, to wardrobe staples and heritage brands with an edited selection of pieces from these collections. Our Premium Panel has been eyeing up their collection of iconic Bella Freud Jumpers.

The Cult & Classic also focus on the very best customer experience. All customers will receive a personal shopper who will be on hand to answer any queries and they also offer a generous loyalty scheme to all registered customers on the basis of one point earned for every pound spent. Check it out here: www.thecultandclassic.com.

An exclusive discount from Secret Linen Store

Secret Linen Store

In our last survey, our panel members stated that they’d like to access more discounts and offers from premium and luxury brand. In light of this, we are delighted to offer our Premium Panel members an exclusive discount from luxury bed linen destination Secret Linen Store!

The Secret Linen Store offers the most luxe bedding we’ve ever come across. All bedding is designed in-house and woven in Portugal using the best cotton yarns and come in an array of beautiful prints and patterns.

Not only do they already offer beautiful linen at up to 40% less than the high street – they’re also tempting us with an extra 12% OFF* their new collection.

Just use code MAKEMYBED at the checkout to receive your discount until 30th April 2015. *Please note offer is not valid on clearance lines, or valid with any other offer.

Visit Secret Linen Store here: http://www.secretlinenstore.com/

Spring fashion picks

With Spring well on the way, our Premium Panelists have been looking to purchase some new-season staples. We’re clearly ready to ditch our boots as high on the panel’s wish lists is footwear from strappy ballet flats to bright and colourful trainers.

Two new launches that have caught our panel’s eye this month are the Addidas x Pharrell Williams Supercolour range which come in a spectrum of 50 different colourways as a ‘celebration of equality through diversity’.

Nike have also launched their Air Max City Collection which is made up of six pairs which represent the fashion-forward capitals of London, Milan, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo each sporting a vibrant, floral pattern that symbolises its region. We want them all!

Shopping survey

Thanks to everyone who completed our Easter survey last month and congratulations to Naomi Flood who won our hamper of Easter goodies from Hotel Chocolat!

If you’re interested in reading about the findings of our shopping survey’s – check out our new series on our blog each week – the Insight Edit.

See you next month!

The Insight Edit – how to make your customers feel valued

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of more than 900 premium retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

This week we are focussing on the ways retailers make their customers feel valued. Feeling valued by a brand or retailer is a large factor in a consumer’s decision to remain loyal and we wanted to find out what factors contribute to that.

We asked our panel to think of the brands they feel value them as a customer and then asked them to think about why that was.

Making customers feel valued

As you might expect customer service was the top response with 72.29% of respondents selecting it.

Ensuring you offer exceptional customer service is the best way to make your customers feel valued. It is therefore key you invest in this area within your business across internal processes, staff training, delivery methods and response times.

Next in importance is the way you communicate with your customers (54.2%). Understanding who your customers are and therefore the way in which they would like to be communicated with is important to not only make the first sale but to create customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases. Interestingly men found this to be of far more importance than women with 70% of men and only 48.3% of women selecting it as a factor.

Offering discounts make 30% of customers feel valued. This suggests it is not always necessary to offer discounts to your loyal customers. If you offer a great customer service and communicate and engage your customers effectively then you can charge for your products profitably.

Loyalty schemes were a close 4th place with 28.9% of respondents stating it as a factor. This perhaps suggests that many loyalty schemes don’t create the warm fuzzy feeling towards a brand that is expected. Perhaps consumers don’t appreciate the benefits on offer and see through the schemes as a device to make them spend more.

Asking your customers for their opinion is the least important factor in making them feel valued (27%). However, this is only a couple of percentage lower than the previous two factors and so should not therefore be overlooked. Asking for customers input on new product development or asking them what they want from you can often generate a wealth of useful information you can use to increase revenue and profit.

The key takeaway from this week’s Insight Edit is that the physical service your customers receive from you is the lynch-pin in making them feel valued. Ensure you offer them great service and communicate with them effectively – easy!

SEO in web development, keyword analysis & monitoring the bottom line

Over the past few months, a number of articles have caught my eye as they reinforce important learnings about how search has evolved. In light of these articles, I’ve looked at how brands and retailers need to shift their mind-set around ‘SEO’ and use it more strategically within marketing campaigns.

SEOs have a role in development

SEO has evolved greatly over the years and it doesn’t operate in silo. Search engine algorithms have advanced significantly to weed out spam and reward sites that have relevant and valuable content – ultimately sites that provide users with what they want.

SEO and UX go hand-in-hand and which is why it’s important that the SEOs of today have good knowledge of usability and experience design as well as the technical aspects of search.  All these skills can be a huge asset when redeveloping a website.

Your optimisation team will have in-depth, historic knowledge of your current site’s performance, what works and what doesn’t as well as your business goals. They also have knowledge of a number of different platforms so can advise on the best platform even before the project has kicked off.

When developing a site, use your SEO team’s experience, learnings and advice to your advantage. Get their input on technical requirements and recommended specification for your new site to ensure that important elements, for both the search engines and users, are factored into scope.

Then by the combined ideas of your optimisation team, designers and developers will ensure you end up with a site that exceeds expectations in terms of architecture, content, optimisation and user experience.

Keyword analysis

I recently read a good post about the relevance of keyword analysis in Search Engine Land. I couldn’t agree more with the points raised and want to reinforce how brands should be using search term analysis today.

The Hummingbird update in 2013 was an important step in Google’s quest to provide better quality search results. By better understanding the intent of search queries by looking at context (rather than specific keyword matching) they have been able to provide smarter, more relevant search results.

Of course, bespoke on-page optimisation still has its part to play, but brands need to forget trying to rank for certain keywords and focus on adding relevant, more varied content around topics or subjects.

Keyword analysis today should help identify popular keyword themes, product opportunities and review what questions are being frequently searched for. This kind of analysis will help you find gaps and opportunities for targeted content, be that additional products, improved categorisation or filtering functionality, enhanced product information, how-to guides or FAQs.

Think about the role your content plays in a conversion and investigate terms that will target more of the right customers throughout their search.

Measuring your marketing

Another interesting read was this article on Moz which discussed why looking at correlation rather than focusing on causation needs to be more of a focus for modern SEOs and marketers.

It is becoming harder and harder to predict and measure success from individual channels and the key statement in this article is that SEOs are “becoming more complete marketers, with greater influence on all of the elements of our organisations’ online presence.”

All these articles reinforce that SEO shouldn’t be treated as something that operates in isolation. Retailers need to change their view on traditional SEO tactics such as keyword analysis, as these should be used far more frequently and strategically to inform content creation. Expanding quality, engaging content is always going to be the best long-term strategy for natural success, not focusing on specific keyword rankings as many brands still do!

Retailers also need keep focused on the bigger-picture. Of course monitor granular channel specific metrics, but don’t obsess over them. Tie everything back to your bottom line. If your marketing channels are working, you will be able to see this in your sales, revenue and market share.

And finally, be sure to get the most from your agencies by pooling their knowledge to ensure your marketing campaigns are joined up. Whether it is a new site build or a strategy review, get your agencies in the same room to work together, share plans and collaborate on strategy to ensure you maximise the effectiveness your marketing.