How Travis Perkins increases online basket value

Travis Perkins is the first to admit it was late to the eCommerce game when it launched its transactional website only three years ago in 2016. With the majority of its customers coming from the building trade industry, it initially developed a website for account holders to log in and pay their invoices online. But thanks to the power of analytics, the retailer soon spotted an appetite for customers using its website to search for goods – many of them guest users who were unable to see product pricing without an existing Travis Perkins trade account.

The online team identified that these guest shoppers were amateur DIY enthusiasts and homeowners coming to the website to price-compare products against competitors on the high street.

“It was a real first to have this new pot of customers which we didn’t know what to do with them or how to talk to them,” admits Jodie MacCann, senior digital optimisation manager at Travis Perkins.

MacCann and her colleagues soon learnt how to talk to these ‘retail’ customers, updating the website to provide product prices. Now 75% of traffic to the website comes from retail, compared to just 25% who have a trade account – the polar opposite to what Travis Perkins sees in its physical stores. Meanwhile, the website has seen 70% sales growth in the last three years.

One of the big drivers of this growth was implementing a recommendation engine for bundled items. This upselling tool suggests various bundles of products and prices depending on what the user is searching for.

The retailer has been working with start-up Increasingly to develop its bundles since the beginning of 2017, and during 2018, sales of bundles grew by 175%, while sales of the secondary attachment products grew by 409%.

“While the tool leans towards more for our retail customers, we’re actually seeing bigger growth from our logged-in [trade] users,” explains Colin Spooner, senior trading and analytics manager, at Travis Perkins. “So it’s not just about educating customers, but it’s about speed and how you can add all the products you need to your basket all on one page.”

Spooner describes how setting up the tool simply involved signing off the design of the bundles and adding a tag to the retailer’s eCommerce site. “Everything else in development is done on Increasingly’s side and they’re proactive in what they think our customers need as well.”

For a retailer which is part of a larger group, and which shares IT between 23 other brands and businesses, an easy setup of the upselling tool was crucial.

“Even though we’re the largest brand in terms of online sales, we still need to justify all IT resource which can sometimes lead to longer lead times on things,” says McCann.

Spooner is also a fan of working with start-ups for this very reason, as well as for the fact that start-ups can move quickly and respond to feedback in an agile manner.

“We need to move at a fast pace. And if you go to a larger company, they’ve got multiple accounts and you have to go through a prioritisation queue. We’ve had the same account manager with Increasingly from the start, whereas with bigger agencies we would have already cycled through 10-20 people.”

McCann agrees, pointing to its conversion optimisation agency and its video agency which are also start-up businesses Travis Perkins is working with: “It’s something we try and do because we’re keen not to pump our money into the big brands eveyone is using when you can get the same value and help a start-up company at the same time.”