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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Majestic Wine integrates web and stores

Wednesday March 30 2011

Brings the instore experience online with enhanced local control, content and Twitter access

Brings the instore experience online with enhanced local control, content and Twitter access

 

Majestic Wine, the UK's biggest retailer specialising in sales of wine by the mixed case, has introduced a new multichannel initiative to bring their website and stores closer together.

 

Working with its e-commerce services provider, Snow Valley, Majestic is enhancing the online profile pages for each of the 161 stores within the retailer’s network.

 

Visitors to the Majestic website can now see up-to-date details of daily wine tastings in their local store, as well as other event listings, staff biographies, and a Twitter and news feed.

 

Majestic is also giving local store staff full control over the content of their store’s profile page.

 

Since its launch in 2000, the Majestic online store has grown to become a significant part of the retailer’s business. As an early and enthusiastic adopter of the web channel, Majestic has developed a highly successful online strategy under the leadership of e-commerce director Richard Weaver, and web sales now account for 10% of the retailer’s total turnover.

 

Transferring instore knowledge

 

Majestic’s success, however, has been largely built on the instore experience and particularly the expertise of their staff. Weaver explained: “It’s really important to us at Majestic that our staff engage with our customers – the ‘come in, queue up, pay, and leave again as quickly as possible’ model is not something we aspire to. We want wine lovers to flock to their local Majestic store where they can enjoy tastings and benefit from the expertise of our brilliant staff.

 

“We also want the Majestic stores to actively reach out to wine lovers in the local area. Every one of our stores is distinctive, principally because they are staffed by different people, and we embrace that lack of uniformity – we see it as a very good thing and we want all of our customers, whichever channel they use, to get to know the personality of their local branch.

 

“That’s what this initiative is all about – how can we use our website to help each individual store reach out to local wine lovers and build a community with those customers?”

 

Majestic and Snow Valley began the project by assigning a local store to every online customer. This is done automatically using the customer’s billing address. If the customer decides to change their local store, they can do so very easily by selecting another branch in the 'My Account' area of the website.

 

The customer’s local store is then displayed in the top right-hand corner of the website at all times while a customer is browsing. By clicking on the link, the customer is taken to the store profile page, where a wealth of information about the branch is presented in an engaging and attractive way, including features like “What we’re tasting today” free wine-tasting opportunities, other events, store information and team biographies of the staff with their interests and favourite wines, as well as the Twitter feed.

 

Invigorating brand personality

 

Weaver added: “By giving local staff the ability to write the content for their store webpage, we’re able to bring the personality of each store to life online. A customer that normally shops online, or who has never been to one of our stores, is now able to see what’s going on in their local branch. This encourages them to visit the physical store but it also extends that sense of being part of the local Majestic community, even though they’re shopping online.

 

“This is just one more step on our multichannel journey. From day one, we have fulfilled online orders from the nearest branch, so web customers were already engaging with store staff. This initiative takes us another step forwards.”

 

Majestic was also very keen to allow the stores to actively reach out to local wine lovers. To help the stores to promote the website, each branch now has its own simple URL. Instead of a numerical ID, the town or city in which the store is based is appended to the Majestic URL, for example www.majestic.co.uk/derby. This simple and easy-to-remember format can be used in marketing or even verbally to help customers find their local store online.

 

Re-use of existing systems

 

Management of the store profile pages is carried out using Majestic’s existing order management system. As staff are already familiar with this system and use it for other tasks, this approach ensures that the adding and editing of content can be done easily and quickly through the same application, with no need for additional hardware.

 

The solution itself was delivered using cloud technology from Microsoft Azure. A shared database in the cloud allows information to be uploaded from the order management system and then accessed in near real-time by the e-commerce service for display on the Majestic website.

 

The implementation was accompanied by an internal marketing campaign to encourage stores to take control of their store profiles and to update them frequently as part of their efforts to reach local customers. As part of this, Majestic presents a monthly award to the branch that has made the best use of their store page and Twitter account.

 

Sarah Lynch, development director at Snow Valley, said the Majestic project is an example of “multichannel synergy at its very best”.

 

“For high street retailers, the online channel can no longer be a separate part of the business – it has to be integrated and run as part of the overall strategy,” Lynch added. “The great thing about Majestic is that they have a very clear vision of what their customers want and how they want their brand to be perceived. We’re really looking forward to working with them on future multichannel initiatives.”