At Demandware’s Xchange ‘14 conference I caught up with Jaeger’s head of ecommerce, Simon Spencelayh, to find out how the fashion retailer is improving the customer experience and its multichannel capabilities.

It’s less than a year since Jaeger relaunched its online store for the second time in less than 12 months, and only around eight months since Spencelayh started his new role.

So it’s clearly been a period of change for the company’s ecommerce team.

Here’s what we discussed...

What has been keeping you busy in your first eight months at Jaeger?

A lot of it is about doing the basics correctly and that’s predominately why I wanted to work for Jaeger.

I identified that a lot of the basics weren’t being fully utilised and there were some quirks in the way the company delivered the customer experience, so I wanted to set a base level of good user experience, good site design and good ecommerce practice to try and set us up for growth over the next few years.

So what have you implemented already?

As a brand, we wanted to do something different for Autumn/Winter 2014 (AW14).

Our AW14 collection, which was launched in August, was our big statement to the world that Jaeger is changing.

Jaeger’s heritage is all about premium clothing and we really wanted to get back to our core brand values by reinvesting in product quality and focusing on natural fabrics, ‘noble’ fibres and classic design.

Looking at another example, in my first week I noticed there was a setting in the backend which deleted online baskets after 20 minutes.

We changed it to 14 days, then to 28 days, and just that simple change that took about 30 seconds to implement had a positive impact on the business overall.

For Jaeger many of our products are a considered purchase, so we need to have that reminder for them when they come back to the site.

This is again just about getting the basics right and making sure we’re getting those quick wins.

So as head of ecommerce you get involved with the products as well?

Not the design of the product, we have creative directors and I have no background in fashion!

But I used our insight tools and Demandware’s analytics to look at search terms on-site, so we can see if customers are searching for products that we don’t have, and also recognise the products that are getting the most traffic and interest.

We can then give feedback and recommendations on places where we might need to extend our product range, and on the merchandising and product development side.

For example, ‘dresses’ is our most viewed category but the brand is historically known for knitwear and coats, and that’s where we’ve invested a lot of time and effort for AW14.

But dresses was a big opportunity for us, so we had to make sure that we were properly investing in it and developing that category.

One of the things that we’ve implemented is hiring dedicated resource to look specifically at that core merchandising and trading element of online, which sometimes falls between the gaps with multichannel retailers.

So how would it have been taken care of prior to that?

There would have been less focus on it.

I think bringing people in to provide that dedicated focus so they live and breathe it, rather than it being just one part of someone’s job, has enabled us to really identify the right opportunities for the customers.

Other than using on-site search data, what other metrics do you use to establish how you should develop the product range?

Beside the analytics it’s customer feedback. We recently partnered with Qubit which helps us to get some qualitative insight from our customers.

A survey pops up at the end of user sessions so it doesn’t interrupt the buying process.

Looking at Jaeger’s multichannel strategy, how can you tie this online development work back to in-store activity?

We offer a lot of what are considered to be standard services for multichannel retailers such as click and collect, which accounts for around about 20% of our ecommerce sales.

We have about 31 stores so that’s not bad as a percentage. At Mothercare we had more than 170 stores but achieved a similar proportion of click and collect sales.

But there are still a lot of improvements we can make and it’s about finding that right balance so we’re not just pushing one service to the customer.

For customers who live within the vicinity of a store we need to look more at how we can engage them and convert them online but also get them to come in-store.

We have a fantastic loyalty program and our customers tend to be very passionate about the brand, and one of the things we’re investigating more deeply is how we can connect the customer online and in-store.

Do you have iPads and other digital technologies in-store?

We have iPads but they’re not transactional, they’re more for information. But store staff are able to access all our online inventory, which accounts for 7%-10% of our stores’ business.

There are two main areas where I think it’s key for fashion retailers to be heading.

Firstly, we need our stores to be able to access all inventory across the entire estate, which means you can have the right stock in the right place, so in theory we should never have to tell a customer that we’re out of stock.

That open up ship-to-store and also improves click and collect because if the stock is already in the store the customer can pick it up immediately after placing the order.

We’ve been trialling that in our London Regents Street store and it’s been really successful because it exceeds the customer’s expectations.

We don’t promise them anything as we don’t yet have full stock visibility, so we really are using that to exceed those expectations at the moment.

The second important area is reserve and collect, which is where the customer can just go online and reserve the stock before paying in-store.

It’s important for fashion retailers as customers know they can head to their local store and try an item on before they buy it. It also opens up opportunities for upselling in-store.

Do you use any mobile technologies in-store, such as NFC or iBeacons?

We’ve been experimenting with iBeacons in our new Chelsea store.

The mannequins have beacons installed in them that work with a third-party app called Iconeme. If a customer has this app the beacons tell them what products the mannequins are wearing.

We’re using it at the moment to see whether there’s any appetite for customers to engage with mobile in-store. 

We only get about 15% of our site traffic from mobile devices, but that excludes tablets which accounts for a further 35%.

I think that number is only going to increase, so mobile is still going to be the device that connects our in-store and offline channels and we need to bear that in mind with everything we’re doing.

Finally, how does Jaeger integrate content into the website?

This is one of the areas we invested in over the past six months. We had a journal which was updated weekly, but it wasn’t fully optimised, it wasn’t mobile-friendly, and it wasn’t really communicated to our customer base.

That’s been completely revamped so it works on mobile and is more appealing to customers.

We’ve also appointed a head of content, Rachel Sullivan, who started around the same time as me.

How is it linked back to the product pages?

There’s always the commercial element where content is linked back to our products.

A prime example is for AW14 where one of our biggest products has been Gostwyck, which is superfine merino wool.

It’s similar to cashmere quality and only comes from one farm in Australia, which is where it gets its name.

The sheep are raised in a very healthy environment and that’s what makes the wool such high quality.

To promote this we created a story around the farm and created videos and multiple articles that all linked back to the product. This was available in-store and online.

That’s been a resounding success, we’ve had people walking into store who only shop offline but have seen the Gostwyck video online and found it really interesting.

So that helped prove that people who only shop in-store are still engaging with us online.

Econsultancy's Festival of Marketing in November is a two-day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including Airbnb, LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.

David Moth

Published 30 October, 2014 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Michael Edwards, Marketing Manager at Red Technology

Great article and a good insight into Jaeger's approach. It's really interesting that they are trying to get the basics right, and do them well, before experimenting with every new technology under the sun. Many other retailers could take a lesson from this 'walk before you run' approach.

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