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The online baby products retailer is targeting store-based growth with the recent launch of its first hi-tech flagship superstore

The location of the new 33,000-square-foot Kiddicare superstore at Nottingham’s Castle Marina Park was – perhaps unsurprisingly for a company founded on internet shopping – chosen by a social media fan vote earlier this year, writes Miya Knights.

When Morrisons acquired Kiddicare for £70 million early in 2011, it not only bought the UK’s online leader in its category, it gained the technology platform and expertise that created it. And, even though the pureplay already had a Peterborough store, it now had the UK’s fourth biggest supermarket behind it.

Retail Technology caught up with Kiddicare chief executive, Scott Weavers Wright as well as recent recruit and head of e-commerce, Paul Allen, to find out what role technology is now playing in the retailer’s multichannel evolution.

Focusing on the customer journey

“We’ve created a great customer journey,” Weavers Wright said. “To do this we really have technology-enabled the new store. We learned a lot from the kiosks we first installed in Peterborough.” He said the updated kiosks in the new store, running new IBM WebSphere and Endeca search-enabled user interfaces, give the customer an experience of, “effectively browsing the web as opposed to a traditional kiosk”.

Allen added that the kiosks now incorporate barcode scanners so customers can carry out price checks. And specialist sections, like the car seat area, offer advanced queuing technology that can text customers when a sales associate is available, leaving them free to browse the rest of the store.

“We’ve also enabled free customer Wi-Fi,” Allen said. “In return, we ask for an email address and push that information into our CRM [customer relationship management] programme, which ties back into the single customer view ambitions we have online.”

Putting social into multichannel

The retailer has also introduced baby gift lists to further tie the store experience back into its online proposition. And it plans to add a social ‘crowdsourcing’ element to its list service in subsequent releases by allowing groups of friends to contribute to purchasing gift items.

The introduction of a digital signage network and 3,000 electronic shelf-edge labels (ESLs) is enabling consistent pricing, agile and efficient discounting and targeted promotions using existing central systems; while a click & collect service is also due to go live soon.

Allen highlighted how the technology investment in Kiddicare’s technology platforms, including IBM WebSphere, Endeca, Monetate, MS Navision and Salesforce, for its online operations, as well as its kiosks, apps and stores, has given it its competitive edge. “The ESLs are just an extension of that, for example, where we’ve taken out the operational time and cost of printing paper labels and distributing them,” he said.

Weavers Wright concluded: “Mobile is game changer. Stores are becoming showrooms where the customer is in control and wants transparency.”

This story first ran as the cover story of the September/October 2012 issue of Retail Technology magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition or register for the free e-version. 

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