We caught up with eCommerce Director of Cox & Cox, Aynsley Peet, at the eCom Leaders Forum on putting tech to work to create a customer first approach and enabling a dynamic strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tell us about Cox & Cox as a business, what is the ethos of the brand, your audience and top priorities?
AP: Cox & cox are a homeware retailer selling online, also sending out catalogues. Typically throughout the year we sell indoor furniture, lighting and mirrors however we are seasonal so during spring/summer there is a focus on outdoor furniture whilst in the autumn/winter we start to sell Christmas tree decorations and accessories. We’ll be selling Christmas tree decorations in August which is soon upon us!
In terms of our business objectives: grow business and brand, get more people knowing about Cox & cox as a brand, reach new audiences and educate them about our product range. We offer our customers a curated product range inspired by tradition and trend.
What’s changed for you in the pandemic? Have you seen changes in consumer behaviour? Given the changes in lead times for products are people willing to wait?
AP: We were growing as a business by 20% YoY for the past five years, and at the start of 2020 we saw further uplift at +40% YoY, so the brand was beginning to see some real momentum. But what we did see at the beginning of the pandemic in the UK was trade slowing down in the first few weeks followed by a 100% increase in traffic numbers, visitor sessions, and some weeks our traffic was even up by 200%. In terms of revenue we recorded a 70% YoY growth and we are seeing that trend continue and strengthen into 2021. There have been some good demographic changes, with growth in younger audiences – particularly the 18-25 age group where we have added a 400% uplift in visitor numbers. Also the 65+ age group has been a big growth demographic.
We’ve also seen more mobile users. 66% of our users are using mobile (up from 54% in 2020) and we’ve also seen that reflected in mobile revenue with 50% of our revenue coming from mobile, including higher ticket items like a £2-3,000 sofa.
In terms of longer lead times our customers have been good and been prepared to wait longer for goods, particularly with outdoor furniture. We’ve had to be on top of our game in terms of improving customer communication via emails and phone calls – it has been a challenge and it’s something we continue to monitor.
So in terms of social selling, how important is that to Cox & Cox’s strategy? With regards to creating a presence across multiple channels and creating content to support your narrative.
AP: Social media really took off for us in the pandemic, we added 100k instagram followers so we are now at 370k followers, and the organic traffic generation we are up well over 100% year on year. We are using it to launch new products, styles and ranges – we launched our paint range which was one of our most liked posts of the year. We also launched last year a ‘Your style’, where we ask customers to submit images of Cox & Cox products in their houses, we are focusing on using customer images where we can and increasing engagement. We have also been brave in the buying team, and we have bought products specifically for instagram and it’s been interesting to see how successful that’s been when launching these products via instagram too. Really exciting new channel for us as we grow into 2021.
Creating a personalised shopping experience is a great way to build a brand following. Is this something you’ve implemented throughout the buyer journey?
AP: We try to personalise as best we can in terms of segmentation and data, We use a lot of personalisation throughout the homepage, product listing pages, product detail pages, on-site recommendations and email marketing. We are also trying to personalise for customers – for example a room builder feature we launched last year allowed customers to virtually try out a paint, sofa or lighting in a room, which worked really well as customers were unable to go to shops. We are testing AI and 3D models to enable customers to see how an armchair might look in their room – with the goal of increasing sales and reducing returns.
Cox & Cox shoppers have been experiencing the smoooth checkout process with Klarna since we partnered in April 2020. Aside from a seamless payment experience, how important has Klarna been as a customer acquisition tool?
AP: It’s been immense for us really, we find that 50% of our Klarna customers are new to Cox & Cox. We saw great revenue numbers with £1.6M coming from Klarna in 2020, so we know it works. We’ve been featured across the Klarna ecosystem from emails, shop directory, in-app with curated collections. The set up was painless too, we had an easy go live within 2 weeks. We use Magento 2 which has a default checkout with Klarna, so our customers are checking out in as little as a few clicks and using payment options like Pay in 3 to support higher ticket items like garden furniture.
Following on from that how have you integrated Klarna into your multi channel strategy?
AP: We still send out catalogues, and actually we send more than ever in the past 3 years. In the past year we have gone from 8 to 10 catalogues per year, and we actually promote Klarna on the front, inside cover and back of the catalogue. Any advertising we do, for example in The Sunday Times or the The Telegraph, or in display advertising, we feature Klarna to make sure customers know that we offer Klarna at any point in the shopping journey, which is then reinforced when they come to the website. Cox & Cox has seen incredible growth over the past year, and to be honest I’m really excited about the conversation we will be having in 2022 at this rate!