Our client is one of the UK’s largest privately-owned timber and builder’s merchants. Providing a complete service to construction companies, specialist contractors, tradespeople and builders, they offer a wide range of products, service and knowledge.
What they needed
We’ve maintained a long relationship with our client, having previously worked on a customer loyalty programme for them aimed at improving client retention and increasing customer share of wallet. The initial campaign allowed us to advise areas of improvement within the business and, following its success, we have continued to work closely with our client advising on several areas of customer development.
Our client informed us that since launching their website over 18 months ago, engagement with the site had not been as high as they had originally anticipated. Historically, the only way for customers to view or buy products had been by visiting one of their UK wide branches and purchasing in-store. Our client had since made it compulsory for customers to register for the online service to check supplies and were offering incentives such as free amazon vouchers for those that did. However, they were finding that although customers were accessing the site frequently, analytics showed that many were dropping off at before going on to place an actual order.
From an operational point of view, the introduction of the online service required customers to change the way they typically buy, which meant for a significant change in buying behaviour. Our client therefore wanted to understand why engagement with the website was so low, if there was anything they could do to increase interaction and any reasons as to why customers may not be placing their orders through the website. Results would help inform future developments on the website and provide a business case on how best to effectively onboard new customers, as well as educate those frequent users on how to place orders.
What we did
We designed an impartial customer research project aimed at gathering detailed feedback which would recognise customer buying habits, where customers spend, their typical spend amount and any preferences with the online service. As this was predominantly research into customer behaviour, we recommended that our client should focus heavily on educating customers on the benefits of using the online service, rather than focusing solely on understanding the reasons why they currently weren’t.
Using prior experience working with our client’s data, we advised on the best approach to ensure we were in line with the different customer segments within our client’s dataset. We then used stratified sampling to obtain a representative sample of each, with groups formed of customers who had previously set up an online account and had never made an order, customers that had set up an online account but had since reduced their usage, as well as customers who had used the online service intermittently.
Results were collected over the phone, meaning we were able to gather behavioural analysis, as well as real-time feedback which we were able to report back to our client straight away. The activity therefore acted partly as customer service call, allowing us to source key information as to what customers wanted to see from the service, as well as address any issues or queries which we were able to pass along to our client, or resolve ourselves whilst on the call. By adding in any new account holder details and intelligence as to whether customers were happy to receive promotional offers, we were also able to update our client’s dataset, preparing the data for upcoming GDPR regulations.
What we achieved
We were able to put forward several actionable recommendations for increasing website usage with a particular focus on the process of onboarding going forward. This included implementing a clear communication strategy, highlighting the benefits of purchasing through the site and ordering online and upskilling the branch staff to effectively guide customers on how to purchase online. We found that there was a clear discrepancy between branch staff and the online service, with branches often offering better deals to customers who visited them directly. In order to increase engagement, customers needed a clear advantage for buying online, so we outlined the importance of packaging the service correctly and maintaining synergy between both the online and offline facilities. This was reflected in the recommendations on how to tailor our client’s pricing strategy.
Analysing results by each segment, we found that 67% of customers spent more annually on building materials than they had with our client. Based on this trend analysis and figures reported from customers, we found that our client could therefore achieve up to a 95% spend uplift from their 50k per annum customer spend group alone, demonstrating the value of the project and the potential increase in revenue they could achieve by implementing our recommendations. As an added value, we were also able to pass over 43 additional actions for our client to address such as account and billing issues.