“Shopbox has made a massive difference to our bottom line”
-Ken Fox, Managing Director of DID Electrical
DID Electrical has built a reputation for providing superior customer service and value. Its first family-owned store opened in 1968. Since then the company has expanded to 23 stores across the Republic of Ireland. DID Electrical has a focus on innovation and a mission to make shopping easy and so offers a nationwide delivery service and a very welcoming website presence enabling customers to click and collect for free at a local store.
In its stores, DID Electrical staff go the extra mile to ensure that customers leave with the appliances and home technology that is best suited to their needs. The company decided that it wanted to offer a similar customer experience to people shopping online: not just to present product and send people to the checkout, but rather to let them explore the best options in the catalogue and leave having bought the right products from DID Electrical and not a competitor.
For more than eight years, DID Electrical had been working with the award-winning Irish eCommerce company, StudioForty9. Gerard Keohane, the Director leading design and web development for DID Electrical, put the company’s Manager of eCommerce, Monika Podsadna, and Managing Director Ken Fox, in touch with Shopbox. “I was convinced that the purchase path management solution offered by Shopbox would take DID Electrical to the next level,” says Keohane. “It provides the kind of service and experience that any customer would expect when walking into a store. That sounds simple, but it is something that very few companies around the world have achieved, and even fewer have achieved well, and even then, only by investing in a substantial in-house technology team.”
“The electrical retail market is highly competitive. It is difficult to stand out and the margins are very thin, so you cannot solely compete on price. You need to offer something special, and that applies to online as well. Our focus has always been on solving problems for the customer with the personal touch,” says Monika Podsadna, who has been with DID Electrical for ten years.
When it comes to online retail, there are a number of friction points that can disrupt a smooth customer experience – a journey that concludes with a sale. The first point of friction is that people generally do not buy straight away. Very few people think, “I want a TV set”, jump online and buy one of the first TV sets they see. In fact, very few people buy even a relatively low-cost item such as a wireless mouse without first doing some research. “If you can therefore present a wider choice of meaningful options, customers will trust you more than if you only show one or two,” says Podsadna.
Very often, when people have done this initial research, they are still not ready to make a purchase. They want to think about it. So now we come to another major friction point on the journey. When the customer returns, they do not want to go through the same rigmarole. Think about really great store salespeople. When you walk back into the store a couple of days later, they will greet you warmly and enquire if you have found the wireless mouse you were looking for. They are interested in your needs but without being intrusive.
But customers do not get this experience shopping online: the system has forgotten who you are and what you were looking for.
A further major friction point comes near the end of the journey. Virtually everyone does it: you have narrowed the options until you have found what you think is the perfect mouse for your needs and now you want some reassurance. You do not want to get home and find that actually, this mouse doesn’t fit your hand size or that it does not have all the functions you need. Another possible worry for many customers is peer pressure. You want your friends, family or work colleagues to confirm that you made a good choice. Again, a helpful store assistant will enquire after the customer’s precise needs, tastes etc. because that is the way to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat sales in the future.
Of course, marketing and retail psychologists have explored these issues in depth and each case might be different. But the basic need is to nudge the customer through the journey and to a successful purchase in real time. With DID Electrical, as soon as a customer arrives on the website, Shopbox gently takes them by the hand and guides them through the journey. First, it shows a wide range of alternatives and offers the option to “see similar”. The customer then feels comfortable and in control; they are not being pushed towards one product and hustled to the checkout. It is also non-intrusive: the feature is there if you want it, but not if you don’t. “The result is a very good click-through rate, with people viewing a wider range of products,” says Podsadna. “By showing more options, the customer is far less likely to go and view the competition.”
When the customer returns, Shopbox remembers them and what they were doing at their last visit. “That may sound trivial, but in fact it’s really important. Other eCommerce platforms simply don’t do this. It means the shopper can instantly pick up again where they left off,” says Podsadna. “In this way it is easier to move people to the next step, though they still feel in control.” There is also a much greater likelihood of upselling. If someone as already committed to spending, say, €25 on a mouse, they can be nudged towards a €30 option. And the same applies for bigger ticket purchases.
“Before introducing Shopbox we really did not have great visibility into how many visitors to the site were dropping off before making a purchase, but intuitively we could see why that might be the case, so we decided to give Shopbox a try,” says Podsadna. This makes it impossible to do a “before and after” comparison. Instead, Shopbox set up a control group of customers who are not presented with the Shopbox facilities, so that everything could be compared like-for-like in real time. “With the control group, we could see the added value from day one,” says Podsadna.
It was a very simple implementation, one that did not require the involvement of a DID Electrical employee, just a day’s work by Studio Forty9 to integrate Shopbox with Magento. The Shopbox pilot project went live on 11 May. “It was a very good time to implement Shopbox, as the pandemic was driving more online business,” says Podsadna.
Since going fully operational on 14 August (and on mobile on 3 September) DID Electrical has seen a sharp increase in the number of online sessions and the number of products viewed. Sales conversions for Shopbox users have been three times higher than those for customers in the control group (an uplift of 332% on the web, and 280% on mobile). Moreover, the average order value went up (33% on the web and 27% on mobile).
Early in June the range was extended with two entirely new catalogue sections, garden equipment and electronic healthcare, without any additional effort being required. This will come as a surprise to anyone who assumes that artificial intelligence relies on machine learning to interrogate huge amounts of data. Another benefit is that there is no bias towards older and more established products. The secret is that Shopbox has inbuilt knowledge of the main drivers of online retail behaviour, so it works out of the box. “It is artificial intelligence, but AI written by people who really understand retail, which is what initially gave us confidence in Shopbox,” says Podsadna. “And the results have been amazing.”
“We’re seeing a rapid return on investment very soon after a quick and easy implementation. But what is really thrilling is that this technology is enabling us to be as customer friendly online as we have always been in our stores. It also feels great to be a standout company at the forefront of retail artificial intelligence,” concludes Podsadna.
And the verdict from the top? “Shopbox has made a massive difference to our bottom line. We are really delighted,” says Ken Fox, Managing Director of DID Electrical.