Crate and Barrel takes a comprehensive approach to e-commerce

April 8, 2015 02:13 PM

The word “synergy” is how the top web executive at Crate and Barrel describes the retailer’s current approach to e-commerce.

In 2014, Crate and Barrel, No. 77 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide  grew web sales 10.3% to $507.5 million from $460 million. But just as important to Crate and Barrel as growing web sales is making the most of the housewares and home furnishings retailer’s assets, including stores, to grow all facets of its e-commerce operation, says vice president of e-commerce Joan King.

Crate and Barrel, a business unit of German retailing and direct marketing conglomerate Otto Group and an online retailer since 1999, is ramping up mobile commerce and using customer feedback to redesign key product pages, especially for furniture on, King says. “How customers are using e-commerce has changed just in the past few years and we’ve taken a step back to readjust what we are doing to make things online all about the customer experience,” King says. “We are less focused on constantly adding new vendors or the latest feature and function as we are on engaging customers the best way when they want to shop online.”

Today as much as 44%, or 5 million, of Crate and Barrel’s 11.3 million monthly visits comes from mobile devices. Sales from mobile commerce, which grew by 65% to $165 million in 2014, account for about one-third of all e-commerce sales, Internet Retailer estimates. As a result, Crate and Barrel is adopting a “mobile first” strategy.

In the past year Crate and Barrel has moved mobile commerce and app development in-house and re-engineered its gift registry app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. It also has added such features as more advanced bridal registry tools and the ability to scan barcodes in stores and see purchases made from the registry in real time. Sales associates in the chain’s 170 stores in the U.S. are being equipped with web-enabled iPads to help shoppers create or update and maintain an online gift registry and shop for products online or from store inventory. With an updated mobile site that streamlines purchasing to as few as four taps, a better mobile experience is how Crate and Barrel is staying in tune with how its core web shoppers—men and women age 25 and up with 53% having annual household income of $60,000 and higher—are buying furniture and housewares.

“Customers shop online or walk into the store and they use their mobile device,” King says. “They are using mobile devices more and our in-store kiosks less.”

Crate and Barrel is part of Otto Group’s multichannel retail group. In its recently released annual earnings report and for the year ended Feb. 28, Otto, No. 2 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Europe 500 reported:

  • Total web sales grew year over year 5.1% to $7.07 billion (6.5 billion euros) from $6.73 billion (6.18 billion euros) in 2013.
  • Total sales were flat at $13.12 billion.
  • Total sales for the multichannel retail group were flat at $10.79 billion.
  • The web accounted for 54% of all sales compared with 51.3% in 2013. 



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