Case study: New Look builds social media platform to extend e-commerce site


Case study: New Look builds social media platform to extend e-commerce site

Jenny Williams




New Look has launched a social media platform to extend its e-commerce website and multi-channel offering.

New Look Daily is a cloud-based customer hub that aggregates social media feeds from Twitter and Facebook and allows customers to upload photo and blog content. EMC Consulting built the site for the retailer to integrate with its existing Art Technology Group (ATG) e-commerce platform.

"New Look wanted to build on the success of its Facebook page, which had seen a 700% growth in the number of 'likes' in just 12 months," said Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, head of retail at EMC Consulting.

Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe says retailers' spending on social media has increased. Retailers such as Asos and Marks and Spencer's have set up e-commerce sites on Facebook's social networking platform.


Use of open source

The project was completed in 12 weeks. "Hitting the deadline was made possible by using cloud computing as a platform to accelerate the development cycle for test, development and delivery," added Gilbert-Rolfe.

EMC used open source technology, Drupal and Agile methodologies to build the customer hub.

Gilbert-Rolfe said it is important to get the balance right between on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure. This he says will ensure reliability while keeping costs down.


Increasing orders via mobile devices

New Look launched its mobile website in April 2011, which was built using Javascript, CSS3 and HTML5. The company is currently developing a mobile application for the Apple iPhone through a design agency.

New Look's recently announced full-year financial results for 2010 showed the retailer's pre-tax profits were wiped out after a £36m profit the previous year. Although overall sales fell 0.2%, e-commerce year-on-year sales grew over 40%.

Since the New Look Daily site was soft-launched three weeks ago, customer orders have already increased. "We've seen a 25% increase on average order value being placed when customers go to our e-commerce site via New Look Daily," said Allison Maguire, multi-channel change manager at New Look.

"Over the next two to six months, we expect to increase order value from mobile phones." About 30% of the traffic to website is from mobile devices.


Moderation challenges

Maguire said the biggest challenge is moderation of the user-generated content.

"Moderation immediately raised alarm bells because our audience can be from age 13 and up." The company implemented a mixture of automated and manual automation tools and uses social media moderating company, PiFilter.

To work alongside New Look's existing IT team of management information services, including support for data warehouse systems, the retailer is considering bringing more IT staff in-house.

Maguire said this will enable the company to respond to rapid changes in the retail industry in an agile fashion.

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