The Art of The Possible

When £10M isn’t even the best result

Earlier this year one of our retail clients came to us, frustrated. Despite having successfully weathered the pandemic storm, they weren’t making the progress they wanted when it came to building lasting loyalty. That’s true of fashion retailers on the whole: The sector, in general, is heavily reliant on Google search and differentiation is a struggle. The journey from Google ad to product is soulless at best; like walking through a personality-free stock room.

In order to stay relevant and build a community of returning customers, they wanted to up their game and deliver a genuinely inspiring eCommerce experience. Despite this ambition, the teams were restricted and weighed down by clunky legacy systems, meaning progress could be slow and not always visible. Our client was determined to overcome this hurdle and spark an internal change in approach whilst enhancing the experience for shoppers. 

“The work should feel unfamiliar and unsettling – that’s how you know you’re making change.

The objectives driving the brief were to build the brand and demonstrate fashion authority to shoppers whilst, unusually, commercial factors took a back seat. Customer loyalty and engagement requires a more nuanced approach than the blunt tool of pure revenue. As well as thinking about shoppers, the internal objective was to demonstrate how a nimble test-and-learn innovation process combined with open-minded thinking, can transform both what you do and how you do it.

Our explicit job was to design a series of experiments that could be launched in a matter of weeks and test their impact on user journeys. The brief was broad – we were told to forget constraints and begin with blue sky thinking.

We know we don’t have all of the answers for our clients at the outset, instead what’s important is starting – getting stuck into the challenge and being there to guide the team through the unknown. We prepped the client that we would be taking a unique approach, creating conceptual springboards that were designed to stretch thinking and challenge mindsets but also make us all feel uncomfortable. 

We asked deliberately provocative questions – what if your brand was like a cookbook? What if your brand was like that one good meeting of the week?  Our role is to spark and facilitate creativity, providing reassurance that the feelings of confusion and discomfort are all just part of the innovation process. The work should feel unfamiliar and unsettling – that’s how you know you’re making change. 

“Our instructions were then simple – get the work into the wild as quickly as possible, and if it’s not working, kill it.”

From what at times felt like chaos, order began to emerge. We selected isolated areas of the site where we could implement changes that were small enough to be feasible, but large enough to elevate the customer experience. We had hunches, but validation was crucial. We created a step by step guide to A/B test each design and a set of KPIs to use as benchmarks. Our instructions were then simple – get the work into the wild as quickly as possible, and if it’s not working, kill it.

“The true value of the work lies in the culture shift that’s percolating in the background; the adoption of quick experimentation.

Within three weeks, the first tests were live. The impact was immediate and impressive – figures suggest the changes we collaborated on are worth £10M in incremental revenue over the next year. A commercial impact is undeniably satisfying, but this wasn’t our main achievement. 

The true value of the work lies in the culture shift that’s percolating in the background; the adoption of quick experimentation, and iterative test-and-learn. 

These quick-fire experiments have become a window into the future for our client. By embracing our approach of getting work into the wild as soon as possible, they will reap the benefits. They’ll become more creative, more competitive, and enhance internal capabilities. With a taste of progress at pace and creativity without constraints, they’re hungry for more and heading for real, sustainable transformation and success. 

Learning through making is at the heart of everything we do at &us. When working with clients to innovate and enhance experiences, we strive to uncover insights and build behaviours that lead to real change and sustainable innovation processes. This project perfectly demonstrates how a short sharp sprint can both elevate the experience, add millions to annual revenue and, most importantly, catalyse a shift in mindset and behaviour.

If you want to figure out how to get your teams working together to make innovation normal and deliver progress faster, drop us a line. We’d love to help you set the next trend.