Made-to-measure multichannel helps Boux Avenue actieve sales lift
For the past six years, Boux Avenue has established itself as a leader in lingerie both on the high street and online. With 29 stores nationwide and rapid international expansion plans across 10 countries, the retailer wanted to strengthen its ecommerce platform in support of its online and offline ambitions. The previous platform was custom built in 2011 and performed very well, but the brand wanted to put a scalable, enterprise solution in place to support ever growing mobile traffic, internationalisation and continued demand, particularly during peak trading periods.
Employing Astound Commerce, Boux Avenue decided to give its ecommerce platform a boost, implementing both technical and design changes to evolve the overall user experience and bolster sales. After an eight month rebuild, Boux Avenue was given a fully responsive, more intuitive, fluid and seamless website that put multichannel at its core. The result was a 15% uplift in average order values and a 10% increase in conversion rates.
Founded in 2011 as part of the Theo Paphitis Retail Group, Boux Avenue is one of the largest independent women’s lingerie brands in the UK. With 29 stores nationwide and rapid international expansion plans across 10 countries, Boux Avenue’s heritage is very much founded in the high street. Its lingerie, nightwear and swimwear products are designed to make women feel confident, powerful and comfortable.
While the company had a dedicated ecommerce platform for online shoppers, it wanted to reboot its online strategy to cater to its expansion plans and growth. The current website was custom built six years ago and, while it was fully transactional, it was difficult to make ongoing improvements or add new functionality in line with customer demand and change in the industry.
As the digital flagship has significantly grown its mix of overall brand sales and its aims to grow internationally, Boux Avenue decided that it was the perfect time to revamp its ecommerce presence, in line with its ethos of a new inclusive multichannel brand and a luxurious, seamless
Trying partners on for size
Boux Avenue drew up a shortlist of candidates in its search for a world-class ecommerce platform that could take its online strategy up a gear. However, a referral put Astound into the pitch mix, and the digital commerce agency was invited to provide its recommendations for the new website.
We came into the pitch stage later than the rest of the candidates, but it didn’t matter. As soon as we received the brief, we knew what would and what wouldn’t work for Boux Avenue. The company was looking for something outstanding, world-class, so we needed to impress and we made a point of not following the crowd with our ideas or consultancy,” added Terry Hunter, Managing Director, Astound Commerce.
A platform made to measure
Astound Commerce was awarded the contract at the end of April 2016, and work started immediately with an initial discovery day between incumbent K3, the Astound development team and Boux Avenue’s internal team. As part of this meeting, the Astound team audited the existing
website, looking for indications of where customers were running into blockers or dropping out of the customer journey. This intelligence was then used to create a list of priority technical changes to be made to the website, which K3 then wrote the specifications for, to be signed off by Astound.
To address the scalability issues of the existing platform, it was agreed that the new website would run on Salesforce Commerce Cloud technology. Together with K3, as a first step Astound worked to decouple the website from the outdated infrastructure. Hosting the website on a middle ground while working on the back end infrastructure allowed Boux Avenue to continue trading as normal while the Astound and K3 teams worked to rebuild the supporting architecture. As part of the wireframing stage, Astound then mapped out the new functional specifications, tailored to Boux Avenue’s needs. Once the wireframes were approved, Astound provided the coders and developers with specific templates for the new functional specifications. These functional specifications essentially became a blueprint for the coders to refine the wireframes and rebuild the new website quickly and easily.
“The initial technical stages of our website redevelopment were crucial,” said Fernie. “This was the part of the whole revamp process that involved the real nuts and bolts of our website, requiring many hours on conference calls. Thankfully, it was a painless process because Astound’s development team were logical and methodical. The team understood immediately what we were trying to achieve with our new user experience. From the tools they used, to how they explained what they were doing every step of the way – they spoke our language and nothing was too much trouble.”
“IT WAS CLEAR FROM THE PITCH STAGE THAT ASTOUND WAS THE PERFECT PARTNER FOR US. WHILE THE REST OF THE CANDIDATES ON OUR LIST WERE MAKING SIMILAR TECHNICAL RECOMMENDATIONS, ASTOUND’S TEAM WAS SUGGESTING – AND INSISTING – ON THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE. IT WAS REFRESHING TO SEE SOMETHING ORIGINAL AND BOLD; IT WAS CLEAR THEJAMES FERNIEE-COMMERCE DIRECTOR AT BOUX AVENUE
RECOMMENDATIONS WERE BASED ON
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE”
While the main purpose of the project with Astound was to achieve scale by switching the in-house platform to enterprise software from Salesforce Commerce Cloud, the work didn’t end there. Boux Avenue had its sights set on evolving the look and feel of the new website to significantly improve the customer journey and overall engagement with the brand. It needed Astound’s user experience expertise to bring its new multichannel ethos to life.
“When we reached the design phase of the project, Boux Avenue had a clear aesthetic in mind for its new platform. It was motivating to see a brand so self-aware and confident about its values, and how it wanted to convey them to customers. It made our job a lot easier,” commented Hunter.
Previously, Boux Avenue had separate desktop and mobile websites. With the new platform, Astound introduced responsive design to cater to mobile shoppers. For desktop shoppers, this new responsiveness would translate to the website running at a higher resolution, filling the screen to accommodate bigger browsers.
Given the nature of the product it sells, Boux Avenue invests significantly in models, styling and, subsequently, photography. The lingerie giant therefore opted to make the photography bigger. This included the option to make thumbnails 50% or 100% bigger to create a more visual and engaging user experience and entice shoppers to purchase.
Other additional functionality introduced to the platform included ‘Quick view’ – the ability to browse and buy a product without going to specific product pages. Browsing via Quick View allows shoppers to flick between next and previous thumbnails – a function also available via the product pages. Better merchandising at the colour level enables shoppers to see multiple colour variants of items they are browsing.
Another huge step change for the user experience was introducing bra sizing in view when browsing specific products, as well as stock information on product pages. With the previous website, shoppers would choose their size of a specific item from a drop down, only to then be told that the size was out of stock. Having the stock information in plain view as shoppers land on specific product pages provides more transparency for customers and avoids disappointment and wasted clicks in the shopping journey.
“ALL OF THE ADDITIONAL FUNCTIONALITY INTRODUCED TO THE REVAMPED BOUX AVENUE WEBSITE HAD ONE AIM IN MIND – TO SURFACE MORE PRODUCTS EARLIER IN THE JOURNEY. THE ADDITIONAL FLEXIBILITY THESE FUNCTIONS PROVIDE MEANS CUSTOMERS CAN GET AS MUCH INFORMATION ON PRODUCTS UPFRONT. THE WHOLE WEBSITE THEREFORE BECOMES MORE INTUITIVE, FLUID AND SEAMLESS.”JAMES FERNIEE-COMMERCE DIRECTOR AT BOUX AVENUE
The new Boux Avenue ecommerce platform launched on the 9th February, after just 8 months of development and a two month break over the Christmas trading period. Immediate analysis of the performance of the new platform points to some impressive improvements in metrics. Conversion rates increased by 10% compared to the same time frame last year. What’s more, the website refresh has helped the lingerie brand boost its average order values by 15%, thanks to the new responsive design, clean aesthetic and improved functionality. Better dynamic product recommendations and search functionality have led to the retailer taking on fewer lower end orders, with mid end and higher value item sales significantly increasing.
Commenting on the completed project, Terry Hunter, UK Managing Director at Astound Commerce added: “Over the past six years, Boux Avenue has gone from strength to strength both on the high street and in the ecommerce world. There’s no doubt that, with its new fluid and engaging ecommerce platform, it will continue to dominate online retail as it begins to strike up partnerships with wholesalers and branch out internationally.”
“AFTER EIGHT MONTHS OF HARD WORK, AT THE END OF THE DAY ASTOUND DID EVERYTHING THEY SAID THEY WOULD. THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE PROCESS, IT FELT LIKE A REAL PARTNERSHIP – ASTOUND MADE SURE TO CATER TO MY MIND-SET WITH A SIMPLE, LOGICAL AND SENSIBLE APPROACH TO THE TECHNICAL, AND BIG PICTURE, CREATIVE THINKING FOR THEJAMES FERNIEE-COMMERCE DIRECTOR AT BOUX AVENUE
DESIGN AND USER EXPERIENCE ASPECTS. THE RESULTS ATTEST TO THE OUTPUT OF THE PROJECT – A FUTUREPROOFED WEBSITE THAT WILL STAND US IN GOOD STEAD FOR YEARS TO COME.”