When Australian clothing retailer Cotton On set out to improve its website experience it almost overlooked a small but significant number that was to galvanise its subsequent actions.

Brick and mortar stores remain at the heart of the business, which operates around 1,500 stores in 12 countries, but it has an active online presence in Australia, where it had been lagging behind its competitors.

“Not much of our marketing, not much of our customer acquisition engagement was working because our conversion rate was far too low,” Peter Hutchinson, Group Head of Digital Customer Experience at Cotton On, told the recent Mumbrella Retail Marketing Summit in Sydney.

A decision to fix the purchase funnel meant focusing on the website experience, from the product all the way through to delivery. (For more, read WARC’s report: How clothing retailer Cotton On fixed its online path to purchase.)

“The number one for me was to focus on the pain points,” Hutchinson explained, but customer satisfaction scores seemed to be heading in the right direction: in a 12-month period, just 0.82% of people received what they considered to be subpar service to the point where they wouldn’t shop with the brand again – and that was down from over 1% previously.

When Hutchinson ran the numbers, however, he calculated that percentage equated to around 85,000 shoppers.

“The only way I could explain it was in relation to the capacity of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – the number of people the stadium holds was pretty close to the number of customers we’d really pissed off,” he said.

“Can you imagine standing in the middle of the MCG – my boss was a massive footy-head so it worked really well – with the crowd roaring at you and they’re saying, ‘You suck. You didn’t deliver my order. You sent me the wrong thing?”

When he put it like that, “everyone just stopped talking,” said Hutchinson.

Customer expectations in online retail are changing all the time, especially since Amazon entered the Australian market, and not responding is not an option, he pointed out.

The focus has to be on the customer first, and even if Cotton On can’t compete with Amazon on delivery it can still avoid doing things “that make people want to swear or smash their phone,” he said.

Sourced from WARC