Knowledge: Case Studies

Traditional ways of shopping from the high street to catalogues are being challenged by the rise of E-commerce. Clothing group N Brown reveals how the contact centre and improved customer service is helping it stay in shape.

Newspaper stories and campaigns centred around saving the Great British high
street have come to the fore in recent years as a result of the rise of internet

Consumers preferring to buy clothes and new TVs through a click of a button rather than get in their car and visit the local high street has, in part, led to the demise of retail veterans such as Woolworths and Austin Reed.

Ian Webber-Rostron, Head of Outsourcing and International at retailer N Brown, told the Future of the Contact Centre conference, that the clothing and homewares brand faced another complication.

Our history as primarily a fashion retailer focused on underserved markets such as plus size is based around catalogue shopping,” he says. “We all remember the catalogue on the coffee table which we would browse circling everything we wanted in the perfect size and colour. Back in 2015 when I joined, we were already seeing a transformation in the way customers shopped with us. Of our revenues back then 60% came from online and that’s risen over my time here currently standing at around 85%. We never pushed customers in any particular channel – they just naturally chose to buy online. The retail environment is tough and we have to implement, implement and implement and if we don’t then we are dead in the water.”

Webber-Rostron, responsible for N Brown’s contact centre operations, both outsourced and in-house, says the department also had to “change its purpose” to stay in line with the group’s evolution.

“We want our customers to look and feel amazing,” Webber-Rostron says. “So, how do we fit into that? We need to understand the business and where it is in its transformation. Change is what we are, but how quickly are we dealing with it? What is our purpose?”

Case study – NBrown, Ian Webber-Roston

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