Asda George and Isobar talk innovating on the web at FUTR


Asda George and Isobar talk innovating on the web at FUTR

The European leg of Futr – an annual gathering of brands and retailers, focused on fresh thinking and progressive change in retail, marketing and commerce – wrapped up last week, with attendees leaving having heard from over 200 industry leaders.

Alex Hamilton, Isobar’s Head of Innovation, was joined for a fireside chat with John Nother, Senior Director Digital Technology at Asda.

The pair’s talk focused on the great work being done by the Asda George - Asda’s fashion brand – the team in relation to mobile performance and the importance of working collaboratively. 

Here’s a summary of the conversation.

Using insight to define a business challenge

Nother explained to the audience how the business uses customer insight to drive the Asda George technology roadmap, both from quantitative and qualitative sources.

With mobile traffic to the Asda George website jumping from 35% to 75% in less than half a decade, coupled with customer feedback stating frustration with site speed, he explained how the team decided to place a laser focus on improving mobile site performance.

“Our customers were making it loud and clear that they wanted a faster mobile site experience. At the time, most UK retailer sites were taking plus 10 seconds to download."

“With 53% of people abandoning visits to a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load, according to Google, we knew that we could build an advantage over the competition.”

Working collaboratively to achieve results

The technology leader noted throughout the discussion the importance of building collaborative teams to achieve business results, both internally at Asda and in tandem with ecommerce partner Isobar.

“Adaptive was the start of our journey around mobile speed with Isobar,” as he began to talk the audience through how the team have responded to the site speed challenge.

“Following the launch of our adaptive site, we realised that even though the experience was better for our mobile customers, we still needed to go faster.

“Investing in building a Progressive Web App (PWA) was the next logical next step for us.”

“By bringing all the great features and functionality of native apps to the web, we were confident that we could deliver an experience unrivalled in UK retail.”

Nother wasn’t wrong. He went on to explain how following the launch of the PWA, the business saw a 31 percent increase in conversion and 20 percent more page views per visit.

Teething problems are inevitable

“The PWA launch generated great results, but it wasn’t without teething problems at the start,” commented Nother.

“We had to see what worked and what didn’t, adjust accordingly and review again."

“With any new technology, this ethos is key as you’re never going to get it 100% right straight away. Having a partner who can work with our teams in a responsive manner is therefore critical.”

This approach came even more into focus with the next initiative undertaken by the team at Asda George as they explored implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – instantly downable web pages.

“While the technology is mainly by news publishers, we saw its value in stepping up page load time.

“But as per all initiatives and ideas, we had to be sure this was the right thing to do, as there were no other major retailers implementing AMP at the time and therefore it was hard to gather information upfront on its value.

“We therefore decided to run a two-month experiment to measure the impact of a guaranteed-fast first impression from search results to the Asda George website.”

Since the adoption of AMP, site speed is now 1.71 times faster, driving a 32% increase in the click-through rate from organic mobile traffic for the top 500 AMP queries.

Today over 250,000 of these pages are live across product, listings and content pages such as the homepage.

Nother and Hamilton wrapped up the conversation by talking about what the future holds.

“I’m proud of the work delivered by the teams, but the journey doesn’t stop there."

“We are now on to our next phase of innovation, continuing to work with Isobar on further enhancing our customers shopping experience."

“Making the most of our shift to a headless ecommerce environment, leveraging new conversational interfaces and driving value through loyalty are all areas of focus for us in 2019.”

To read more on how Asda George and Isobar are partnering to innovate on web, click here.


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