How Jules B uses tech to stay ahead online

Independent luxury fashion retailer Jules B has six stores across the Lake District an Newcastle, as well as a strong online presence. But eCommerce director Tom Jeffrey says staying competitive with the likes of Amazon can be challenging “They just make it so easy [to buy]," he says.

“We have a section of our customers that are loyal, they are mostly the older demographic. But the younger generation don’t seem to have a massive amount of brand loyalty or brand allegiance anymore.

"In a marketplace that is very discount-driven it does make it challenging to secure those sales.".

To that end it has been working with fintech company Klarna to provide more payment options, which he says allows it to "compete in that marketplace for the younger generation.” 

“We’ve seen an increased adoption in customers who try now and pay later. Around 14% of our customers choose that option," he says.

“Klarna is a good step in the right direction for retailers to compete with Amazon. And it has some features that Amazon doesn’t have."

Security is another bonus. “Because they are such a massive payment provider, they take all the risk from a fraud perspective,” he says. 

Some independents have pulled out of Amazon completely. But Jeffrey believes it is pragmatic to use the platform, while also competing with it and selling direct from its website. 

Working with eCommerce giant has also helped it up its game. “We are now a Prime Amazon retailer, which requires a 99% ship on time rate. That is really good because it also means our business has to ship 99% on time."

Technology efficiencies
Automation has also played a key part in making it more efficient, with the company using Visualsoft as its eCommerce provider and Eurostop for its stocking system.

“All of our stock is live across the whole business, so what we have available in the shops is available online. We have an ePOS [electronic point of sale] system that gets updated from our website and creates a pick, pack and dispatch plan for each of our shops [and warehouse].” 

“So because the stock is across so many locations, there is obviously a lot of logistics involved… but it’s all automated so it just runs in the background." A lot of the shop assistants' jobs involve checking the tills for updated lists for online orders and picking stock. On Monday it shipped 780 orders using this system. 

"We are ultimately a small, independent retail operation, without that sort of automation we wouldn’t physically be able to do that [because of all the planning and admin involved]. 
“We had to put a lot of investment in getting to this point, but that is what will enable us to compete the long-term… It’s always been a big dream of mine to make sure everything is automated as much as possible, and I do feel we are almost at that point now.”

But there is still more to do in other areas, he says, including a site redesign. “That should give us a fresh look… and help conversion, as well as giving our customers a more exciting and sophisticated shopping experience.”