The UK’s market leader in providing tiling to both public and professional builders, as well as kitchen and bathroom designers, Topps Tiles, says a 2019 move to Adobe Commerce delivered a solid return on investment.
This was particularly true during the pandemic, says the firm’s Director of Marketing, Sian Garvey, when Brits in lockdown sought to finally take on those home improvement projects they had been neglecting.
But uplift to its business has continued post-COVID, she says - with use of its new e-commerce solution delivering a 21% year-on-year increase in revenue in Q4 alone, and a 10% rise in conversion rates of visitors to its website.
Topps Tiles has also recorded a 25% bump in trade revenue, which is a hugely important part of its business.
The use of tech has radically improved the company’s omni-channel offering across all its channels (offline and online) and for all its markets, she states.
Functional e-commerce-ERP data bridging
Omni-channel emerged as a priority for the company once Topps Tiles decided its limited e-commerce platform couldn’t support customers sufficiently.
A key reason for this focus: tight integration with the brand’s incumbent ERP platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
This is delivered by what Topps Tiles calls a new ‘functional bridge’ that supports data flows going both ways.
The bridge also allows two-way syncing to continuously update the website with both Topps Tiles’ head office and its network of 300-plus physical stores, meaning store tills always have the latest information on stock, for example.
It also allows syncing of offline quotes with a trade customer’s online account, and the successful launch of a new loyalty scheme for trade customers.
Another win, she says, has been an improved ‘click & collect’ offer, as the e-commerce engine and ERP integration means customers always only ever see what’s actually in store on the website before ordering - minimizing customer disappointment.
Garvey also cites the usefulness of new tools for store assistants, which can give them instant access to a customer’s previous on-site behaviour.
They can now also use a special visualizer tool in real-time to build the customer’s basket.
This allows customers to filter tiles by material, colour, shape, finish, and suitability, as well as download an image, order samples, and get a cost estimate.
A quote is then generated if the customer is happy that it can be redeemed online or instore, solidifying the brand’s omni-channel promise, she says.
Quotes can now also be sent directly from the store to the customer's email, with automatic provision of accurate discounts.
Significant omni-channel wins
In combination, Topps Tiles claims these techniques have improved conversion from 0.7% to 4% of all interactions.
It also means, Garvey enthuses, that the public can go from browsing a new kitchen at home to picking up the tiles a few days later, either from a store service or by checking out the company’s offerings in store and then making one call later from home using their ‘instant quote.’
Before the upgrade, Topps Tiles - formed in 1963, and which claims 20% market share in the UK - had been using a bespoke solution that was beginning to show its age.
There was a lot of stuff that we weren't happy with, like it was quite difficult to merchandize different sections and new development was starting to take too long.
Site speed was a problem too - if you wanted to relaunch the Store Locator, it would take an absolute age, because we only had one developer with the agency we were working with, who had the ability to do any development.
As a retail business all this was obviously a huge strategic risk, so I put a proposal to the business that we needed a new website.
To help build the planned new omni-channel supporting website, Garvey and her team selected a London-based ‘creative agency’ with a track record in building Magento eCommerce websites, Tom&Co.
Magento was acquired by Adobe in 2018 and was the former name of Adobe Commerce.
Interestingly, of all three potential tech partners that made the shortlist, they had all recommended this product, so it made sense to allow that to be the chosen basis of the agency’s solution.
Omni-channel aspect was hugely important for us, so getting click and collect working seamlessly was really important - 70% of our orders are collected from stores rather than delivered to home, so that was key. But the most important thing was an amazing user experience.
Apart from the greater integration with the firm’s back end ERP platform, Garvey also really likes the new, faster speed of development, thanks to moving to a ‘headless’ architecture. She says:
We use the word ‘agile’ quite a lot now internally, as we’re able to work on multiple development projects in tandem, whereas before everything was very linear. So, we're working on this, that’s done, let’s move on the next thing, all in agile sprints.
Going headless also means if we want to go into marketplaces, build a new app, it’s so much easier for us now.
Digital wallets and more digitization
In terms of next steps, despite it being an original project KPI, it’s only now that focus is being put into improving site speed, Garvey says.
That’s already changing, she adds - but many other initiatives are also coming through. Garvey explains:
Digital wallets will be a huge one for us, and we’re looking at bringing that technology into stores via handheld tech for our 1,500 sales experts.
We’re also looking at digitization of some elements of our offering. There, we have a loyalty program for our traders, and we will get rid of the physical card they now use and make sure that they instead download our web app to check and redeem their points online.
Summing up her experience of e-commerce and ERP integration, for Garvey, she says:
We've been able to achieve market share growth and our number of visitors, which is one of our strategic pillars.
But for me, it’s all about how much progress we’ve made on omni-channel.