We have been busy listening to customer feedback and working behind the scenes to build a transactional B2B website which is easy to use, mobile-friendly and incorporates a number of exciting features. Now that our secret is out, we sat down to have a chat with our CFO and 'website wizard', Mark Tarrant, to discuss the motives behind the new site and future company plans…
Why did Winterbottom’s decide to redesign the website?
I joined the business in August 2018 having come from a largely retail based background. I had previously been involved with a number of website designs, therefore, Ecommerce is something that will always be close to my heart!
One of the obvious areas where Winterbottom’s were not responsive to customers’ needs was the website. Our previous website was more of an information/brand site that did not allow our customers to transact. Ecommerce is such an important channel for any business whether it be B2B or B2C, which is why it was essential that we invested in developing the site to allow our customers to purchase.
I spent a lot of time listening to our customers at the Schoolwear Show last October, and it was evident that they needed to be able to place their orders out of hours when their shops were closed. Many of them simply did not have the time to phone the customer service team, or wait until the office opened and read through their requirements. As a result of this, I proposed to the board that a transactional website should be our top priority to enable us to provide a better service to our customers.
What are the core features of the new site?
Easy to use – We have tried to set the site up to be as intuitive as possible. We have kept it simple whilst also incorporating as many useful features as possible for our customers.
Transactional – it sounds obvious but the fact that our customers can now place orders for catalogue stocked items is so important.
Stock level visibility – We want to be honest and open with our customers about stock levels. Many other B2B websites purposely “hide” stock so that they always look like they are in stock. That, to me, is not what Winterbottom’s Schoolwear stands for. We want to grow our customers’ businesses and for that we need an open and honest relationship. Our stock levels on the site are the stock levels in the business and this will enable us to more effectively buy our stock in line with customer requirements.
Stock due in – One thing our customers need to know is, if we are out of stock of a product, when it is due back in. We have developed an integration with our stock system to allow us to show this information on our website.
Back-orders - The site is designed to allow our customers to place orders over and above the stock levels we have. The quantities we don’t have will be placed on back order and will be allocated to the customer when the next delivery arrives into the warehouse. The customer service team will be on hand to ensure all back order items are allocated and sent as soon as stock becomes available
‘Quick order’ and ‘bulk order’ forms – I know from experience that sometimes you just want to put a quantity in a box for the product you want. Our customers know our products well, therefore they shouldn’t need to navigate around the site to add the product they want in the sizes they want. We have therefore set up several additional ways for our customers to place purchases into their basket. The quick order form sits on the product page and allows the customer to enter the quantities quickly for each product colour. The bulk order form is basically a list of all the catalogue products. It allows our customers to easily select the SKU they want and enter the quantities that they require.
Reordering – We have also recognised the fact that some of our customers buy the same styles from us each year, which is why we have featured a reorder button within their ‘My Account’ section. This allows the customer to place the same products back into the basket and just quickly change the quantities.
Aesthetically pleasing – Too many B2B companies take independent retailers for granted and lose focus when it comes to designing their website. They can often look untidy and dated. We believe our customers deserve better than that and have therefore designed the site with the same care and attention to detail that one would expect from Winterbottom’s.
How do you think the new site will benefit customers?
I am confident that the core features of the site will reduce the length of time that our customers need to spend placing orders with us, allowing them to focus on the more important areas of their business.
The information on stock availability should allow our customers to plan their purchases more effectively and the back-order functionality enables customers to place their future orders and be confident that their order will be delivered as soon as the product is back in stock.
How do you aim to ensure that customers will receive a great service online?
The website is hopefully designed in a way that is easy to use for our customers. Order confirmations and dispatch information is all automated, so customers are kept in the loop with their orders.
I think it’s important that our customers understand our intention for the website is not to remove the requirement for a personal customer service experience. Our dedicated customer service team will be on-hand every step of the way should there be any queries.
My belief for the website is that it will remove a few of the manual, non-value adding tasks from the customer services team and help them to concentrate on getting to know our customers better, understanding their needs and helping to grow their business.
What will the turnaround be on any orders placed online?
Customers will receive next day delivery for orders placed before 2pm. Like our competitors, we do need to make the provision that in some cases, for example, a very large order placed at 1:45pm may not always make our next day delivery promise; however, our customer services team will always talk this through with the customer on the rare occasion that it may occur. On the flip side, there will often be occasions, due to our excellent relationships with our couriers, that we can get orders picked and dispatched that are placed after the 2pm cut-off.
What security precautions do you have in place?
Our site is hosted by Shopify, who ensure that the site is safe and secure for our customers. Shopify are Level 1 Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) compliant, which means that any store hosted by them is PCIDSS compliant – including ours. This ensures that our customers can safely use their cards and can be assured that their details are held securely to industry best practice. Shopify have a great bank of resources and their security area can be viewed by following this link > https://www.shopify.co.uk/pci-compliant
Can customers access the site on a mobile device?
Absolutely! We appreciate that our customers are often on the go and require their suppliers to be accessible no matter where they are! The site will differ slightly between mobile, tablet and desktop devices, however, the functionality will ultimately be the same.
How do you think the new site will evolve?
For me, it is crucial that our customers offer us feedback on their experiences using the site, whether that be good or bad. I genuinely want the website to be for our customers, not for us, and I will be continually listening to customer feedback in order to bring new and exciting developments to the site. I was keen to get the site ready in time for customers to get used to it ahead of the busy back to school period but it is important our customers are aware that the site will evolve with their feedback.