Farrow & Ball’s combined B2B and B2C ecommerce serves fantastic digital experiences

Spending most of our time couped up indoors due to stay-at-home orders, many of us have become overnight interior designers inspired to spruce up our home environment. British paint manufacturer, Farrow & Ball, synonymous for their luxury eco-friendly paint products, share how they’ve approached digital ecommerce in the last year - appealing to both novice and professional audiences.

Written by:

Julian Dawkins

  • Product Marketing Manager at Optimizely
  • Optimizely

A new approach is surfacing within one of the world’s leading home interior manufacturers

Leading ecommerce teams throughout his professional career, Nick Raymond, Head of Ecommerce and CRM at Farrow & Ball, has been busy incorporating an agile digital approach to the 75-year-old business. From his perspective, digital commerce has always been, "A balance of digital marketing, commercial activity, and understanding how you shift businesses online".

Farrow & Ball is renowned for its quality eco-friendly paints and wallpapers. The firm have 60 showrooms located across the UK, Europe, and North America as well as a B2B selling channel of approved stockists’ in locations worldwide.

"Our priority is around making sure that when customers come to us, they have a fantastic experience."

Nick Raymond, Head of E-Commerce & CRM, Farrow & Ball

The operational B2C platform, built on Episerver Commerce Cloud delivers scalable ecommerce capabilities including Order Management, Promotions and Customer Management with industry leading Experience Management.

During the COVID outbreak, it was crucial Farrow & Ball relied on its digital infrastructure as the brand closed all physical locations. Nick shares, "There has been a shift accelerated by the pandemic. We have seen customers using the website a lot more. We’ve had record levels of traffic, record levels of product views".

As aspects of consumer buying behaviour alters, Farrow & Ball uses its digital experience platform not only for revenue generation, but as a market insight tool to learn more about its customer base. "Buyers have moved quickly. We are seeing people using the website and to identify what colors they want, what product they want, and then buying directly from the website far more so than they ever have before".

When it comes to market expectations, Nick notes, "consumers expect more from brand manufacturer websites". Farrow & Ball recognise it is no longer just about page listings or being a glossy online browsing catalogue. The brands digital outfit is a showpiece example of a trusted, leading institution investing into its online estate to develop and improve customer channels. For similar B2C organizations in the stratosphere, Nick shares, "I think it’s important that brands optimise and improve their own direct-to-consumer offering".

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With an impressive rollout of their B2C online business, Farrow & Ball is focusing on the next chapter of its digital journey - constructing its B2B ecommerce platform. Building an inclusive online community, Nick shares, "we’ll be supporting not just end consumers, but also our stockist community". As part of the program, over a thousand stockists have already been transitioned onto the all-new B2B site. Nick shares with me, "when you think about how the consumer wants to buy, there’s always going to be a key place for our stockist community. We need to make sure that we work with our website so that we can best support stockists. This is through improving store locator and stock information."

When it comes to online attributes Farrow & Ball will be keeping a keen eye on, Nick describes metrics including, growing traffic, boosting acquisition, and attracting ‘productive’ traffic that interacts with the right content. Nick shares he and his team are also concerned with tangible metrics. He outlines, "as an ecommerce website, we are looking to grow our conversion rate and build basket size. From an acquisition standpoint, we are looking at where traffic is coming from, and where we see customers engaging best with our website".

"I think holistically" Nick tells me when it comes to his experience. "We have a huge range of KPIs and metrics to look at, but what is really encouraging for us is that we are in strong growth in all of them. Whether it be traffic, or conversion, or social following, there is a huge number of opportunities still to exploit and we are in good, positive territory."

 

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Crafting an appealing digital proposition for home interior items does not derive from monitoring metrics alone. According to Farrow & Ball, it is about providing a tempting space for prospective audiences – and the company is exceeding all expectations.

Nick notes the "fundamental difference" in how B2C users approach buying materials versus a stockist. A B2B individual will need to be able to order paint as efficiently as possible, in vast quantities – because time is money. Paint may well be the latter part phase of their buying journey, and so ordering cannot be a time-consuming task. Farrow & Ball deploy functionality such as, Track and Trace, Account History and Invoicing to give full clarity to customers.

B2C customers are on the prowl for inspiration, what colors are going to work in their homes, what paint type is best. Retail audiences need inspiration on what to order. What unites the two segments is the demand for a seamless, efficient digital journey.

When it comes to partnering with Episerver, Nick says foremost, it was largely about the content and commerce journey, but now it is about, "being able to integrate really strong user-generated content, different formats, different opportunities for personalization, and integrate all that with the commerce purchasing journey." Episerver partner Kin & Carta will be supporting the intricate build of the expanding ecommerce offering. Nick outlines what the partnership brings, "what we’re looking to achieve with the new partnership with Kin & Carta is to maximize and understand the full capability of content and commerce."

''The success Farrow & Ball have experienced over the past few months has been incredible. We are looking forward to helping them maintain this trajectory by guiding them through a digital transformation journey that will reimagine the website as an evolving strategic sales tool.''
Suzi Middlehurst, Senior Account Director, Kin & Carta

For Farrow & Ball, content and inspiration is the key to its user-journey. Online visitors require visual stimulants of beautifully painted and decorated homes to spark inspiration coupled with detailed product information. Over the coming months, Nick and his team will double down on delivering colour visualization to help customers visualise their space. "It’s a bit more challenging with paint. You’ve got to try and accurately represent the paint in different lights…that’s a bit trickier than with furniture, but it is coming to paint and wallpaper next."

 

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