Kitlocker was set up in 2005 after two university friends decided that something needed to be done to improve the way people shop for university teamwear apparel. Since then, the company has come on in leaps and bounds, transforming this niche retail sector. The latest innovation has been the introduction of Shopbox, giving shoppers an even better and more curated experience, while driving up sales.
Kitlocker has expanded rapidly over the years, but it remains true to the original business model, oriented towards delivering the best customer experience. As a pure-play online operation, Kitlocker developed its own customised e-commerce platform. However, being a first-mover also brings challenges. Over the years, the competitive environment has changed considerably and Kitlocker strives to stay one step ahead. In 2021 Kitlocker’s founder and owner Mike Kent was looking for a way to improve customer experience and boost conversion rates by adopting the latest and greatest in technology.
Not just another personalisation tool
Following extensive solution research, Mike discovered Shopbox AI and was intrigued by its business proposition. After discussions with the Shopbox AI founder, Alan Gormley, the solution was brought in to replace a legacy online personalisation platform, Trbo.
“One of the appealing aspects of Shopbox is that it is non-invasive. It makes recommendations based on shopping behaviour, not by gathering personal data. That’s better for us as it removes barriers and is better for the customers’ experience.”
- Mike Kent, Managing Director, Kitlocker.com
“As a company, Shopbox AI stood out because they were very confident that they could achieve our objectives by understanding our customers’ behaviour – the way they interact with our product offering. This was a unique perspective and very intriguing. Ours is a highly customised e-commerce platform that has evolved over the 17 years of our existence. But the team at Shopbox AI emphasised that what really matters is the quality of the data, which we have,” Mike explains.
Implementation and support
This turned out to be the case. “Despite the complexity of our e platform, the Shopbox API made the integrations very simple compared with other third-party integrations we’ve experienced.” Mike says. However, it was not just the technology that convinced Kitlocker. “Shopbox AI has a way of making us feel special. They understand retail and were very interested in our business model and hearing about our ideas for improvement. And perhaps most importantly, they told us what they would deliver. With other technology providers we’ve spoken to, they often talk about roadmaps for the future, whereas Shopbox AI were very clear and very confident in what they could deliver from day one.”
In order to fully understand Kitlocker’s pain points and objectives, Shopbox AI’s customer success lead and data specialists engaged in several rounds of talks to equip the customer with insights to apply to Kitlocker’s wider eCommerce strategy. After a two-week implementation project, Shopbox went live on Kitlocker’s flagship website, which drives around 30 per cent of the company’s business, at the end of March 2022.
“We’ve been quite blown away by the impact Shopbox has had on our business since then.”
Intelligent product recommendations
The Shopbox platform contributes to the “stickiness” of the Kitlocker site in a number of other ways too. The Carousel recommends products that are most relevant to the shopper. These could include associated products. A shopper might have selected a particular brand, colour and design of a football shirt. It makes sense then to present shorts and socks from the same brand and in the same design, in matching or complementary colours. Personalising an eCommerce platform would not help with this – but understanding shoppers’ behaviour does. And this sets Shopbox apart.
The Shopbox AI Shop Assistant appears on the bottom left of the screen and makes recommendations based on customer preferences such as choice of colour – obviously an important consideration for individuals but even more so when you want to kit out a college or university team in the institution’s colours. “It’s there, but it’s not intrusive or pushy, and customers like that,” Mike emphasises.
This makes it a great shopping experience, without unnecessary hassle. For example, in making recommendations, Shopbox’s AI takes repricing and product availability into account, eliminating a source of frustration for customers. And this is done automatically, without any additional catalogue maintenance or manual intervention, freeing up people-resources and time.
A uniquely adaptive shopping experience
“There’s a perception that you need ‘Big Data’ and complex algorithms and analytics to deliver a personalised experience when shopping. With Shopbox this is simply not the case,” Mike says. “Shopbox will find and suggest similar products based on product description, name, style, colour, size and various other data points in the system but without knowledge of the individual customer’s personal data. Shoppers’ behaviour is telling us what they’re interested in and Shopbox ingests that and adapts the store for them.”
All of this happens in real time, mainly based on the customer’s browsing behaviour and interests. But even before the first click Shopbox makes the Kitlocker site more engaging with an innovation called the Curated Homepage, which went live on Kitlocker.com in June. This adds an Amazon-style curated feeling to the store which is specific to each individual customer.
“Shopbox is there to guide customers through every step of the journey, from the moment they land on our homepage through to the checkout.”
He chooses the word guide because it is friendly and unobtrusive – just as you would expect from an assistant in a physical store. If you have cookies turned on Shopbox will also recognise you when you make a return visit so you can carry on shopping where you left off.
The results to date show that Shopbox influences 39% of the transactions. Customers engaging with Shopbox view 2.5 times as many products and spend 500% more time on the site. And most tellingly, there is a three times increase in sales conversions with Shopbox and a 35% uplift in average order value.
The relationship between Shopbox AI and Kitlocker has deepened as they work collaboratively on further product developments and enhancements.
“Shopbox AI is a great company to work with because they take a genuine interest in what makes our shoppers tick. Together we continue to look for new ways to enhance the customer experience and learn more about their behaviour from the powerful insights Shopbox provides.”