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Case Study: Why Next Is Great

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Next is flying high at the moment. CEO Simon Wolfson topped Retail Week’s Power List last year, earning praise for thriving through the downturn and becoming the model for multichannel for the fashion sector. From a customer’s eye view, the plaudits are well founded. Here we will look at why Next is strides ahead in eCommerce.

Site
Next’s site is, of course, optimised for mobile and tablet, but it’s a foolish retailer who isn’t anymore. More than technical optimisation, Next’s site is perfect for different type of shoppers. For those who wish to savour their shopping experience, you can browse through their collection by theme as you would their catalogue. Or, if you’re in more of a rush, Next’s site has an effective search function and clearly set out menus to help you find the product you want fast.

Their photography is very good too. Images are clear, with multiple views, and most importantly, the products actually look like their photos. However, they don’t have the same feature as Asos and others where customers can view videos of the products on a catwalk, which is a shame. 

Delivery
Next pioneered an ‘order by 9pm for next day delivery’ policy, which has now gone up to 10pm. And they delivered, to me at least, without fail. Their range of delivery options are actually useful, like free next day delivery to store and Sunday delivery. Here they have cornered the market for last minute shoppers who may not be able to get to a high street, or who are looking for something specific.

Clicks and Bricks
It is Next’s clicks and bricks strategy which is really its success story. The stores and online seem to work seamlessly together to drive an efficient process. For example, I bought some shoes online two days before going on holiday. They were ordered at around 11pm, and I received a text and email at 11:44am the next morning to say they were ready to pick up from store. Hats off to the operations team.

This efficiency, the customer service skills of the store staff and openness of the returns policy allows customers to buy several sizes, try them on at home, and return them easily to store. This results in people choosing to buy from Next rather than another store. This is exactly what happened with me and my holiday shoes. I wanted to try two sizes, but knew that if I bought the cheaper options I’d been looking at at Sports Direct, I would only be able to get a credit note when I returned them. I therefore decided to buy from Next, spending more money (especially because I bought a bag while I was at it too...).

Trust
One of the biggest issues online retailers have to overcome is trust. Customers take a leap of faith when they checkout, handing over payment details and money for a confirmation email and the promise of delivery. Everything mentioned above, from delivery to high street presence, builds a consumers trust in Next, and increases their lifetime value. For me, I spent £14 more on one product than I was going to on a competitor’s website, because I trusted Next to send me the product, as it appears on their website, when I needed it.

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