These days, more and more customers begin and end purchases from mobile devices. Most marketers know this, but few bother to fine-tune the digital buying journey, losing countless transactions (and customer goodwill) as a result.

Not long ago, hhgregg, an Indianapolis-based electronics and appliances retailer, realized 50% of its digital visitors began their buying journey on mobile devices. That’s to be expected, but here was the rub: Nearly all of those visitors abandoned their transactions, with less than 0.01% converting into sales. Ouch.

Much of the problem hinged on an inflexible eCommerce platform that made it difficult to offer a simple mobile browsing experience, causing customers to grow frustrated and jump ship before completing their purchase.

To make matters worse, making changes to the digital retail site was fraught with risk:

“During key retail holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, presenting the right offers at the right time can make the difference between winning sales or losing out to a competitor. Because our legacy platform was so complex, there was a high risk of changes causing suboptimal performance at critical moments. We were forced to adopt relatively static campaigns,” said Kevin Lyons, hhgregg’s senior VP and general manager of eCommerce.

So hhgregg decided to do something about it, shifting their strategy and investment to deliver a seamless, consistent, and intuitive experience on every digital channel.

That shift paid off in a big way: a 1000% increase in conversions, boosting digital revenue by 150% in just 18 months.

How did they do it?

First, hhgregg set out to transform its digital strategy with an integrated eCommerce platform that could deliver three vital ingredients for a high-ROI retail journey: flexibility, personalization, and ease.

To shape seamless customer journeys on all digital devices, hhgregg migrated its desktop and mobile sites to IBM WebSphere® Commerce software and engaged our expert team here at BlueSky Technology Partners to optimize these three solution components:

  • IBM WebSphere Commerce Suite
  • IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation
  • IBM Mobile Push Notification

How did those solutions work out?

“One of the most impressive aspects of the IBM WebSphere Commerce platform is its flexibility,” said Lyons. “We can now make dynamic changes without any worries about causing unplanned downtime at critical points in the sales cycle.”

“What’s more, we can share relevant offers to individual customers directly via the app,” he added, leveraging the customer’s location, past behavior, and preferences.

Adding to the individualized experience, push notifications keep customers informed of promotions relevant to their interests and the status of their home delivery or in-store pickup, plus other personalized information. Plus, hhgregg can change the customer’s experience within the mobile site based on their proximity to a store.

But the mobile journey enhancements didn’t stop there. With the hhgregg app, customers can check whether a product is in stock, and scan barcodes at the store for instant savings, or even to check out faster.

Finally, the IBM-powered eCommerce platform also enables what hhgregg calls the “endless aisle” initiative: offering complementary products that are not stocked in-store (such as cables, movies, games, or power tools), keeping customers from having to visit a competitor and increasing upsell opportunities.

With fully integrated analytics and campaign management capabilities, the new platform enables hhgregg to design, release, monitor, and refine its campaigns in near-real time, helping it to maximize performance across the campaign lifecycle. hhgregg now works with BlueSky Technology Partners to develop the scalable architecture for its analytics-driven approach to eCommerce.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

In just 18 months, hhgregg tripled its revenue, outpacing the average industry growth of 12-16% with 50-60% growth, year after year.

“In fact,” adds Lyons, “we have moved from the top 400 to the top 250 U.S. Internet retailers published by Internet Retailer in the last three years.”

When customers win, so do digital retailers. “We are confident that satisfying our customers with a more personalized digital service is a key contributor to our success.”

You can read hhgregg’s full case study here.

Or to learn more about the release of IBM WebSphere Commerce Version 8.0, click here.

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