#NRF16 – House of Fraser & the radically changing shopper

Posted by on the January 22, 2016

2016 will be a year of innovation from within. We’ve experimented with customer-facing technology, in order to surprise and delight, but over the next 12 months leading retailers will be looking at what infrastructural and process changes need to be made, in order to meet omnichannel shopper demands.

One retailer blazing the trail for a truly customer-centric business model is House of Fraser, and three of the masterminds behind this change – chief customer officer Andy Harding, chief information officer Julian Burnett, and head of multichannel business development Sarah Bailie – shared their experiences at #NRF16.

House of Fraser was late to the omnichannel party in some respects, as it didn’t launch online until 2007. Its ecommerce presence has seen significant growth since then, and they have launched a number of innovations to stay at the forefront. These include a touch first website, mobile optimisation, and SEO initiatives; culminating in the brand winning a number of digital awards.

The department store chain’s philosophy is that customer insight informs strategy, prioritisation and decision making, and this ethos extends beyond its online activities. House of Fraser wanted to create a personalised customer experience in all channels, driven by a truly multi-channel organisation, and it knew change was necessary to achieve this.

That’s when the brand launched ‘Project Gold’ – restructuring the team for customer centricity. By doing this, the company could achieve all-business availability, to fulfil any item to anyone, from anywhere, and use technology to lead creativity and innovation.

One of the biggest changes Project Gold has achieved so far is merging House of Fraser’s brand and CRM teams within the multi-channel team, under the leadership of one chief customer officer. This has fundamentally shifted their business approach from channel-centric to customer-centric. The team’s priorities are to:

  • Optimise the customer experience
  • Evolve the multi-channel business model
  • Drive greater loyalty and new customer acquisition
  • Capture international market share
  • Drive profitability

Their success metrics have also changed; House of Fraser now judges profitability on revenue per customer rather than revenue per channel, so they can embrace the complexities of consumer behaviour, where shoppers research, browse and buy across multiple simultaneous channels.

Additionally, Project Gold has enabled the department store to define and refine the customer journey through insight. Here’s what their customer-first model now looks like:

In order to optimise this journey, the customer insights team have a number of objectives, starting with developing a single customer view and lifetime value by segment. From there, they can establish customer targets (aligned to their sales and profit targets) in order to develop a personalisation program, in order to drive conversion rates.

Their secret weapon in achieving this? Getting the basics right.

House of Fraser’s customer-centric innovation has made waves across the global retail industry already and, in time, the brand will start to use their new shopper-first approach to build international market share. This will begin with creating overseas sales capabilities through its UK website, and future plans include forays into China and Australia, and exploring which other regions are ripe for growth.

Charlotte Wood is Senior Account Manager at Fieldworks.


January 22, 2016


Events, Insight

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