Fortnum & Mason is the luxury department store residing at the heart of Piccadilly since 1707.

This week, the 300 year-old retailer has launched a brand new responsive website, where it claims to provide the same level of customer service as it does in-store.

Designed and developed by Red Badger, the team rather grandly pronounces the site as “one of the few truly responsive ecommerce sites currently live.” 

Again, a lofty claim, but there is some innovative technology at the heart of the redesign...

Technology

Facebook’s React is an open source Javascript library intended to help developers build large, fast and fluid applications that theoretically should result in an optimum experience across all devices. This is what’s being used for Fortnum & Mason’s new site.

Other benefits of using this ‘isomorphic’ Javascript include the ability to build single-page applications so that old smartphones that don't support Javascript will still be served the same experience. 

It’s also faster than other solutions. When viewing responsive websites built in React on a mobile, it’s as close to a native app experience in terms of speed as possible.

ROI

Proving the worth of mobile optimisation beyond Google’s recent algorithm update, Fortnum & Mason has revealed some impressive numbers since the launch.

In the three weeks since launch, mobile visits to the site were up 77%, overall conversion has been up 15%, while the mobile conversion rate was up 57%. There has also been a reduction in calls to the customer service team by 18%.

Redesign

As you can see from these before and after screenshots, the aesthetic differences are fairly minor but certainly an improvement.

Before:

After:

In particular the top navigation is a lot less cluttered and fiddly to operate. The text is much clearer and the homepage is no longer dominated by a massive carousel.

Search is also dynamic and provides automatic suggestions as you top as well as a highly persuasive use of thumbnails.

Of course the major change is how the site has been optimised for mobile.

Navigation

The homepage looks particularly attractive here, and the navigation is clearly placed within easily accessible search and menu options.

The store number is directly accessible from the menu, and it’s click-to-call to make things easier.

Search is equally as dynamic and responsive as the desktop version, but without the thumbnail images., which is fair enough as they would be ridiculously small here.

Product pages

Search results provide large images with options to refine and sort.

The product page itself has a massive image, with clear pricing…

CTAs are subtle but obvious, product descriptions are legible…

And a full range of delivery options are available below, with clear pricing and free click and collect.

Fortnum & Mason has entered the multichannel world with its click and collect service. 

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to extend to returns, which from what I can gather from its lengthy returns page, items can’t be returned to the store if they were bought online.

Checkout

When it comes to the checkout, the design is distraction free, save for the important message that this can’t be shipped to certain territories. Again the shipping price is clear.

Although I am a little surprised that there is no free shipping threshold.

I’m also disappointed about how it hides its guest checkout option. You wouldn’t know Fortnum & Mason had one if you got to this page.

However if you scroll down you will find this.

Guest checkout is a must for customer experience, particularly on mobile where speed and efficiency is top of the agenda for users.

Further into the checkout, text entry fields are large and have auto-fill enabled. 

Delivery options are also presented beautifully…

As is the calendar to nominate your chosen day of delivery.

In conclusion…

It is indeed a fluid, fast and impressive experience, particularly for mobile and certainly puts itself at the forefront of other retailers. 

However with a couple of multichannel niggles here and there it isn’t perfect, and certainly it isn’t unique in offering responsive ecommerce design.

It is proof though that if a 300 year-old luxury retailer can transform this well into the digital world, other retailers really have no excuse.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 4 May, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Stephen Keable

Stephen Keable, Customer Experience Designer at Allies Computing Ltd

Really impressed by this redesign. Although the loading times on mobile are a little sluggish, probably down to the rather nice (but large) photos.

Also hiding the guest checkout could be solved by hiding both sets of form fields initially and have a button to choose which one to show with a little jQuery.

over 2 years ago

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sarah hughes, Director and Founder at Datitude Limited

Great summary, @Christopher, and your final sentence in particular is a point well made.

The overall conversion rate increase is a brilliant result, but I wanted ask about one of the statistics quoted: in the three weeks since launch, mobile visits were up 77%. How did they achieve this? Simply launching a new site doesn't get visitors to change their behaviour in this way!

over 2 years ago

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Gerard, Director at Caressa

As Fortnum's were one of the first retailers to venture into E-commerce it is nice to see them keeping up with, or ahead of, the game.

I suspect marketing to existing customers could be enough to trigger a 77% increase in mobile visits

over 2 years ago

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Cain Ullah, CEO at Red BadgerSmall Business

Hi Sarah, I'm the CEO of Red Badger, the team that designed and built the site. Before the full switch over of the site, we ran the new site in parallel to the old one for 3 months and slowly ramped up the number of customers over time. We also created a content ambassador program that anyone could and still can opt to be a part of. We have about 2,500 of these signed up so far. Customers can also provide feedback which gets fed directly to the development team so we can use real customer input to direct new feature development. The answer to your question is that a lot of people were already using the site prior to the go-live date and have naturally started visiting the site on mobile as it is a better experience. There has not been any traditional marketing of the site from Fortnums yet. There are some more interesting stats on the case study on our site here: http://red-badger.com/our-work/case-study/fortnum-and-mason/.

over 2 years ago

Stephen Keable

Stephen Keable, Customer Experience Designer at Allies Computing Ltd

Great case study "Mobile Conversion rate +57% year on year" - WOW, well done.

over 2 years ago

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sarah hughes, Director and Founder at Datitude Limited

@Cain, thank you for the insight. Impressive.

over 2 years ago

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