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Five things on the Feelunique CTO's mind

Feelunique’s CTO Neil Landon has provided some illuminating insights into what is keeping him and his team occupied as the beauty e-tailer continues to drive growth.

Talking on stage at eTail Europe on 18 June, he highlighted several key challenges and success stories from recent months. Essential Retail has picked five focus areas.

PWA

Feelunique is migrating its website to a progressive web app (PWA) – a move Currys PC World is now embarking on as it looks to introduce a transactional app in 2019. The likes of Debenhams and Hobbycraft have also gone the PWA route lately, but Feelunique has chosen Moovweb to power its new platform.

“That’s meant completely rearchitecting big chunks of our site, including migrating some of our infrastructure from a traditional data centre to Amazon Web Services, which is a first for us,” explained Landon.

“[There are] lots of changes but [they are] things we feel we’ve been forced to do that will enable us to grow more in the future.”

Bespoke platform benefits

That feeling of pressure to build new capabilities and build new ways for customers to buy will have been partly driven by the fact Feelunique runs a bespoke eCommerce platform – a decision that has its merits and its challenges, according to the CTO.

He commented: “We’re not beholden to any platform’s roadmap, which I like, [but] at the same time we have to be very wary that we’re keeping up with best practice and not getting left behind.

“It gives us a lot of freedom. There are not many times I have to say ‘no we can’t do that […]’ because we can do anything we want, given time and resource.”

MVP

Landon acknowledged that minimum viable product (MVP) has become “an important concept to follow” when developing digital products for the Feelunique site and the business.

It is a common approach for retailers with relatively small tech teams, as is the case at Feelunique’s London-based department.

“We’re all about where we can deliver in value early – not get obsessed about every last element of that feature,” he explained.

“If we think we’ve delivered the lion’s share of that value then we may not even finish those bells and whistles, and move on to something else that the business is now potentially prioritising instead.”

On Safari

A look at Feelunique’s online analytics shows that Apple Safari is the most popular browser used by the e-tailer’s customers when accessing the website, according to Landon.

Whereas Google Chrome is the most popular browser in the western world, Safari “is by far our most dominant browser”, he revealed. The digital product development team has tried to use this point of difference to the retailer’s advantage.

“We used those insights to leverage an Apple Pay integration where we were able to establish the size of the prize was bigger than other [businesses’],” Landon said. They added multiple functionality because “the audience was there and ready to embrace it”.

Testing, testing

Landon described Feelunique’s A/B testing programme as successful, but said a downside to this approach can be the team becoming too focused on incremental changes, meaning they miss “lightbulb moments” of clarity provided by the data.

To keep the team fresh and motivated, Landon revealed the company has innovation days once a month to let developers work on projects of their choice that might not be directly aligned with business strategy.

And to ensure Feelunique stays on brief with the customer, its shoppers are invited to the London HQ to advise the business how they use its website. Landon said “it was really valuable” when the company revamped its navigation in 2018.

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