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Feelunique and Bloom & Wild talk digital challenges

Jim Buckle, COO of Feelunique, and Phill Burton, COO of Bloom & Wild, give their insight and opinion on the current state of the retail sphere.

In preparation for their keynote talks at the upcoming IMRG Data Summit 2018, IMRG spoke with the COOs of Feelunique and Bloom & Wild. As part of this unique opportunity to gain the perspectives of two top online retailers, the breadth of the current state of retail was delved into and unpacked. In their own words, here’s what these two industry-leading names had to say:

What are your biggest challenges for 2018?

Phill: In 2017 Bloom & Wild embarked on international expansion. We launched in France and Germany, and we’re continuing to develop those markets while thinking about other markets as well. Internationalisation is a big challenge. With our core UK market, the challenge is the same challenge we have every year: it’s trying to increase the engagement of our customers with our product and our service, and make sure that not only are we not losing our customers to our competitors, but at the same time we’re increasing the frequency with which our customers use our service.

Jim: The UK is a very competitive market. We’re at a sort of inflection point where some of the bricks and mortar retailers have significant challenges. They’re looking at how they can squeeze every sale out of their stores and liquidating stock ahead of planned closures. In the high street that creates a lot of competition and a lot of discounting. There’s also a number of online retailers who are all looking to grow and take advantage of that, so there’s a fairly healthy competitive battle going on for the attention of the beauty consumer. That’s the key thing for us – to continue to build in the UK and continue to build a relationship with our customers beyond the noise of discounts and offers.

Jim, do you think there are disadvantages to being a pure play retailer?

Jim: If you have a really successful multichannel business, then the presence of a store - provided you can make it economically viable - provides physical brand awareness. It’s a way for your customers to live and experience your brand as a retailer. In beauty, it’s a way of combining the convenience of online with the ability to go and touch and feel products in the store. Feelunique's goal as an online retailer is to take that experience and to improve on it through an online environment, which is why sampling services are a core part of our proposition.  

Do you ever have any doubts with next-day delivery?

Phill: Having free next-day delivery has been one of the main reasons that has fuelled our quick growth in the UK. The eCommerce giants have created a culture where free next-day delivery is expected now. We do offer paid premium carriers as well and are very transparent about the relative successful delivery rates of our free versus paid delivery option.

Jim: We need to ensure we give the best possible delivery experience for our customers. We now offer an unlimited next-day delivery service on subscription to our customers, which is proving very popular.

Do you encourage reviews?

Jim: Yes. In terms of customer reviews of our service, for me that’s very important. At Feelunique, we ask customers to review us, and we split that across a number of different platforms. We use TrustPilot, Feefo, and Trusted Shops, dependent on geography. So in Germany, for example, Trusted Shops is more important. In the UK, TrustPilot is more important. We proactively encourage customers to review our service, and we monitor those responses.

Phill: We encourage them actively. We work with two review sites - reviews.co.uk and TrustPilot, both of which email our customers asking if they have five minutes to review us – there is that proactive element from us.

How important is data tracking to your business?

Phill: We’re a very data-led company and we try to use that data to improve the customer experience. For example, we use tracking, current data, and historical data to assess the statistical chance of your bouquet being delayed and intervene if necessary. We pass a lot of that data back to Royal Mail to help them assess failure points in their delivery network.

The one metric which informs how our entire business works is NPS (Net Promoter Score). We monitor customer and recipient NPS levels. For customers, we send out regular online surveys to gauge NPS, and recipients, we have inbox content which then leads you to fill out surveys online. We have mathematical models which equate movements in NPS to movements in repeat rate, and therefore what that means for the general health of the company.

Jim: I think the important thing is how you use it, and also that you don’t just rely on it. I think you can learn a lot from diving into individual situations, and if you just monitor high-level trends and data at that level, you can often miss things.

You might have a set of numbers you look at regularly, but every now and then it’s good to look at something in more depth, or change the frequency with which you look at something. Sometimes when you dive into something in a bit more detail, that’s when a discovery is made.

Both Phill and Jim will be speaking on data acquisition and how to implement it to provide a better customer experience at the IMRG Data Summit 2018.

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