First Impressions (4/5)

Luxury food and drink retailer Fortnum & Mason launched a fully-responsive website in March 2015 – the company’s first major digital redevelopment in four years.

Built by Red Badger using open source software Facebook React and Spree Commerce, within just one month its mobile visits grew 77% year-on-year, while mobile conversions improved 57% over the same period.

What’s more, in just one week calls to the Fortnum & Mason customer service team were reduced by 18% compared to the same period 12 months prior.

While Fortnum & Mason has chosen not to enter the native app space to date, its redesigned website delivers a comparable experience in terms of speed and device optimisation.

The 300-year-old British retailer hired its first Chief Information Officer, David Mold, in July 2014. Chief executive Ewan Venters told Retail Week that the appointment demonstrated the company’s belief in technology as it “looks to the next 300 years of Fortnum & Mason”.

“We need to be on the edge of technology and modernisation,” Venters added.

Today, Fortnum & Mason’s digital strategy entails:

1. Delivering the same level of customer service via digital devices as it does in store.

2. Resolving presentation and technology issues leading to high drop-off in the digital buying process.

3. Managing complex orders and delivery to more than 130 countries.

Fortnum & Mason lays claim to being the first multichannel retailer. The company “sent goods all over the world when the telephone was first invented,” Customer Experience Director Zia Zareem-Slade told Retail Week. Fortnum & Mason’s new responsive design builds upon this pedigree, and is already delivering impressive returns.

While website functionality could benefit from minor tweaks here and there, what the company has achieved for just £1.2 million – compared to the £40 million spent by Selfridges to “future proof” its online business – is impressive.

Search & Navigation (5/5)

Thanks to strong brand awareness – they have had over 300 years to build the company name, after all – and without the challenge of securing native app downloads, Fortnum & Mason drives traffic to its mobile site primarily via organic search and PPC.

According to SimilarWeb.com, search currently accounts for 48% of Fortnumandmason.com’s traffic, with over 90% of that derived from SEO.

Fortnum & Mason’s mobile-optimised homepage features crisp, attractive images and clear, accessible navigation including search and menu options. The call to action inviting users to become ‘feedback ambassadors’ to help shape the new responsive website is a nice touch.

Despite Fortnum & Mason reporting a reduction in customer service calls since launching the redesign, it has remained mindful regarding ease of accessibility, listing the store number in the main menu, which is click-to-call.

The menu is drop-down, with some side-swiping navigation to go from menu to category. I hope Fortnum & Mason adds to this in future iterations like other leading retailer sites.

The search experience on mobile is comparable to desktop. There was no loading lag, despite the results page being image rich.

Products & Categories (4/5)

Fortnum & Mason certainly knows how to give good product imagery. Photography is crisp and clean, as you’d expect of a luxury retailer. While most product listings have multiple images, the secondary photographs can’t be enlarged beyond thumbnail size, which took persistent screen tapping to ascertain.

The pricing on individual product pages is clear, as are the CTAs, without being intrusive. Shoppers can also check out product recommendations without having to backtrack through categories or return to search.

The product descriptions are succinct yet informative, and the full list of delivery options are well laid out, as you’d hope from a retailer selling to130 countries.

In keeping with Fortnum & Mason’s multichannel heritage, Click and Collect is also available. However, this multichannel approach doesn’t appear to extend to the company’s returns policy; customers can’t return items purchased online to a store.

Features such as advanced search and Add to Wishlist are not available on the current responsive website, although further along the sales process there is an easy-to-miss CTA ‘Sign in to save your bag’.

Payment process & Checkout (3/5)

The checkout page is clean and straightforward, and there are no nasty surprises regarding shipping. However, it feels like Fortnum & Mason may be missing a trick by not offering any free shipping incentives.

Online shoppers worried about security will be reassured by the ‘Pay Securely Now’ buttons at the top and tail of the Your Bag page, in addition to the various security verification icons.

While in a perfect world all mobile customers would sign up to complete the checkout process, when you’re shopping on the go time is of the essence. Therefore, playing hide and seek with the guest checkout option doesn’t lend itself to an excellent consumer experience.

Further along the checkout, large text entry fields and enabled auto-fill will win brownie points, as will the various delivery options including preferred day.

Post purchase (4/5)

While I await my delivery I’ve kept a beady eye out for savvy retargeting across search, social media and rich media. I haven’t spotted anything as yet, but as it’s early days I’m happy to give Fortnum & Mason the benefit of the doubt.

Although the responsive redesign isn’t without the occasional flaw, and the overall digital offering certainly doesn’t tackle innovation for innovation’s sake, other retailing whipper-snappers could learn a thing or two from the great-great-great-granddaddy of British luxury goods.

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