Streamlined Carluccio's aiming to tell more brand stories online

Restaurant chain Carluccio’s is ringing the changes to its brand image following this year’s company voluntary agreement (CVA), which resulted in a third of its branches closing down to leave 85 sites in operation.

Central to the current strategy is a £10 million investment and brand restructuring, with a new digital drive running throughout that plan. The business, which was established in 1999, has launched a refreshed website on a new platform.

The new digital offering was up and running in the final week of October, giving the company a chance to better engage customers online and in its reduced property portfolio in the build-up to what is typically a busy time of year for the company.

The technology nuts and bolts

Carluccio’s partnered with eCommerce platform provider BigCommerce to bring the new site to life. The website, hosted on WordPress but with the commerce element powered by BigCommerce, mixes content and online purchasing capability more clearly than before.

A visit to the company’s journal section of the site takes customers to blogs and articles on Italian food tips, for example, and there are embedded product links encouraging consumers to immediately buy items that are referenced.

Some 80% of Carluccio’s eCommerce volume comes from the two months leading up to Christmas, according to the chain, so a stable site is viewed as a crucial element of this time of year.

James Backhouse, marketing director at Carluccio's, commented: "A software-as-a-service eCommerce platform was critical to us; we are a small team and didn’t want to have to deal with hosting hassles or the need for regular maintenance and upgrades that could interrupt up-time for the site.

“We also wanted a user interface that was fast and easy to use, with lots of functionality right out of the box.”

BigCommerce’s platform, which supports payments, inventory management and shipping among other functions, integrates with the WordPress content management system. Backhouse said this provided the flexibility Carluccio’s required.

“The ability to seamlessly blend content and commerce enabled us to rapidly develop a modern website with powerful commerce capabilities using our preferred content management system,” he explained.

“Launching a website of this calibre without adding technical complexity or extra people into our team was a massive accomplishment.”

What’s the goal?

Any business that has been through what Carluccio’s has been through in recent months would surely be looking for a refresh and an opportunity to tell its story and serve customers in a different way. It is perhaps no surprise that the marketing director is so central to the project as the brand image will have been impacted by the CVA.

There are clearly brand stories that the business is keen to tell, and it is hoping the new digital platform will facilitate this desire.

With its 20-year anniversary celebrations set for next year, the new website will provide an opportunity to ensure its 21st year is less dramatic than the last 12 months. As well as the CVA, founder Antonio Carluccio sadly passed away one year ago at the age of 80, marking the end of an era for the brand.

Backhouse said: “Carluccio’s is a brand that is built on brilliant people working in the business, suppliers creating amazing products, and the ingredients themselves.

“We are unusual in having both restaurants and delis retailing our products, and we wanted to bring this all to life in our online presence.”

He added: “Our aim was to develop a website that did the fundamentals really well, whilst also demonstrating the stories behind the brand and products, and linking seamlessly into eCommerce. To do this, we needed a platform that could strike the balance between traditional eCommerce and a content-rich website.”