Shop Direct invests in technology to satisfy staff and shoppers

The parent company of and has made two major technology announcements this week, with the view to boosting the experience of its customers and staff.

Shop Direct is investing in eCommerce, mobile and supply chain technology that it hopes will provide the platform to continue its recent sales growth story and keep it on track to become the "world-class digital retailer" it has gone on record saying it wants to be. Recent agreements with global tech organisation IBM and content marketing firm Ampliance are evidently helping fuel that strategy.

On Thursday the retailer's head of user experience, Sam Barton, spoke of the "cutting-edge online and mobile experience" Shop Direct can now offer its customers following the introduction of Amplience's Dynamic Media platform. The portal will allow Shop Direct to automate how every visual asset is displayed across its online stores.

From the unified platform, the retailer's team can adapt a single asset for different devices, and Shop Direct is keen to provide a seamless service to its customers across each of its channels. Traditionally a mail-order retailer, the business still operates catalogues but 84% of sales were completed online during the last financial year – with 44% of all web sales conducted on mobile devices, which was up from 27% one year before.

"Shop Direct always strives to deliver a visually rich and engaging digital shopping experience for our customers, no matter how they choose to connect with our brands," explained Barton.

"Since deploying Amplience Dynamic Media, we've seen distinct improvements in speed and agility in media sharing across our brands. Amplience has also enabled us to incorporate content such as interactive video and rich shoppable content, that we couldn't have even considered on our previous platform."

Earlier this week, Shop Direct revealed that it has signed a ten-year, large-scale services agreement with IBM to move its operations to a hybrid cloud model, which it hopes will increase flexibility and help the business quickly respond to changes in demand as it continues to grow.

IBM's cloud will provide a platform for the delivery of a suite of analytics, mobile, social and security offerings aimed at smoothing out Shop Direct's customers' online experience and empowering the retailer's workforce to collaborate more effectively. Staff services covered as part of the IBM deal include new desktops and laptops, as well as secure mobile device management and support for tablets and smartphones to support what is becoming an increasingly mobile workforce.

Shop Direct will make use of IBM's cloud infrastructure platform, SoftLayer, and managed services from IBM Global Technology Services. Meanwhile, MaaS360 from Fiberlink will enable secure access for Apple and Android devices.

Andy Wolfe, Shop Direct CIO, remarked: "We're looking to tap IBM's cloud computing expertise to allow us to innovate and add value to both the experience we deliver to customers and the working experience we offer our people."

Sam Barton, head of user experience at Shop Direct, will be speaking at this year's RBTE at London's Olympia. Visitors to the event can view his presentation on the latest trends in retail technology on 11 March, at 10:50am.