Q&A: The Entertainer on growing email and multichannel revenues

Toy retailer The Entertainer recently reported some impressive figures, including 120% growth in mobile sales and a tripling of its email revenue. 

Rob Wood is Head of Online at The Entertainer, I caught up with him to talk about the company’s multichannel strategy.

How have you worked towards a single customer view? Which data sources do you use? 

We’re really targeting the single customer view, as most retailers are. We’re driving forward our ability to deliver a personalised service across all of our consumers and touch points.

The example we always use is Star Wars. When selling Star Wars Lego, you have two very different customer groups. You have people buying it for their children and you have collectors.

The work we’re doing gives us the ability to really drill down to individual purchase patterns and talk to people with far more relevance. That’s what we’re hoping to achieve.

In terms of benefit, we’re naturally looking to increase the basket value but also the frequency of visits—both to stores and the site—and generally increase the lifetime value of the consumer by keeping them better engaged.

lego star wars

How do you use this data? What has it enabled you to do differently?

We can now send 100% personalised and fully responsive messages to our customers that were driven by their behaviour, rather than our best guess.

A single customer view database was built, incorporating the tools needed to maximise all data to increase lifetime value and deliver real-time personalisation for web and email.

Alongside the creation of this database, a new email service solution was integrated to allow segmentation of email addresses using attributes from the database. The recommendations engine now gathers data while the customer browses, interacts and orders from the website.

We tripled our email revenue last year compared to the year before, which is a brilliant result for us and something we are really happy with. We’ve used the same database – it’s not like we have massively grown the database. All we have done is send better messages to the same people and got a better result from that.

How have you managed to improve customer retention?

The work we have done has undoubtedly helped retain customers, but SmartFocus has helped us send contextually relevant and unique engagements across all of our digital channels and website.

Within one year of using The Message Cloud, we have:

  • Tripled email revenue
  • Doubled email open rates
  • Increased conversion rates
  • Seen a 44% increase in click-through rates
  • Seen a 120% increase in mobile sales
  • Seen a 60% increase in returning shoppers
  • Significantly increased average value orders (AOV)

These days there is so much noise for our communications to cut through, and emails are getting increasingly competitive. This means you only get one chance at your email, so it needs to be smarter and work harder.

The information you used to set up your email two days ago might not be the best information when the email is opened. If you know customers aren’t going to look at every single one of your emails, you need to offer them the very best message when they do choose to interact with your brand.

I read that you’re still opening one store per week – how does this fit in with your multichannel strategy? 

It’s not quite that fast, more like one a fortnight. We’ve only got 130 shops so obviously there are lots of high streets where you can’t find us – yet.

With Click and Collect being such a big part of our online business it really helps our multichannel reach. We’re also looking at other collection options like Collect+ and Doddle to extend our options.

entertainer stor

Have you found that, in this sector, a store presence is a big advantage? 

Yes, because we sell children’s gifts there’s a huge demand for Click and Collect as it offers fast delivery and there are no worries about missing a courier.

Across the year Click and Collect runs at 40% of the online business but as we get closer to Christmas this gets as high as 80%.

How do you join up the customer journey between online and offline channels? What are the biggest challenges in achieving this? 

Our store colleagues greet our customers, ask them who they’re buying for and help with product recommendations.

Online we can’t have this interaction so it’s vital we have good customer data to power the recommendations we make to the customer.

We can now record customers’ shopping and browsing history and offering relevant products and promotions based on a customer’s behaviour.

ent cc

How important is Click and Collect for The Entertainer? What percentage of orders are collected in-store? 

We are incredibly proud of our Click and Collect service, which lets customers order online and pick up their delivery within 30 minutes at one of our stores.

It forms about 40% of our current online business and as things stand, it’s the fastest growing part of our business.

The Entertainer is ensuring that, first and foremost, we are offering outstanding value to the consumer, both in terms of the product they’ve purchased and the advice they’ve received.

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