A tale of two clients

A living room with neutral coloured cushions and plants
  • Information Architecture
  • User Experience
  • Interface Design
  • Product Design

Expanding horizons

One of Britain’s most successful homeware retailers, Dunelm, operates 175 stores across the country with a significant online web presence powered by a Célibataire solution. The twist in this story? Our involvement with the retail giant actually began with another company: Worldstores.

We had been commissioned to produce a 500,000 stock-keeping-unit website for the digital retail outfit that would unify its separate niche homeware and childcare sites. This work was needed urgently as Worldstores’ ageing website design had serious conversion and SEO issues, leading to an expensive reliance on pay-per-click advertising to drive traffic.

However, mid-project, Worldstores was bought by Dunelm. This was primarily because the homeware chain store owner wanted to use our solution to update its own online presence. It also meant we needed to scale up our new Worldstores design – capable of supporting £100m in revenue a year – to one that could manage a projected £500m.

Célibataire's solution – phase one

While this represented a huge leap in capacity, such scaling was achievable thanks to the critical work we’d already undertaken on Worldstores’ site design. To understand how, it’s important to detail our approach to Worldstores’ initial brief.

First, Célibataire completed a business case report for the new website built on a scaffold of web stats and performance analysis. Stakeholders from across the Worldstores business were also interviewed in discovery sessions to ascertain how they wanted the new site to help them and what functionality it should feature.

Mobile UI screens
Mobile UI screens

From this starting point, information architecture and website user experience maps were generated as wireframes, enabling us to create cohesive front end designs. Such work was vital as it not only showed Worldstores’ stakeholders what they should expect from the new ecommerce ui – but also defined the backend required to power it.

Importantly, the proposed solution was mobile-first, built on content modules rather than pages. This modular approach would unchain the new site from typically restrictive page-template solutions, instead introducing a more efficient, streamlined platform that combined modules to form each page. Such an innovative approach ensured that the many different digital commerce requirements of each trading department within Worldstores could be met effortlessly.

Desktop PDP UI
Desktop PDP UI

Célibataire's solution – phase two

Two months before the initial site was to go live, Worldstores was acquired by Dunelm. The retail giant immediately committed to every element of Célibataire’s website development programme before ordering its expansion and revision. After all, the IA, UX and overall design of the new ecommerce website needed to evolve so it could accommodate the significant differences between the two organisations. These included bricks-and-mortar versus online-only; different selling styles; Dunelm own-brand versus Worldstores’ selling of other brands; and homeware ranges that were more complementary than similar.

We delivered the initial work on an agile sprint basis, using a minimum viable product model to pull together the core elements at speed before refining the formula in subsequent sprints. To ensure successful outcomes for each, we worked closely with business stakeholders to meet the evolving needs of the Dunelm/Worldstores brief before wireframing, designing and delivering a complete asset pack. This was passed on to the development team to build the finalised site.

UI icons
UI icons

The results

The upgraded Dunelm site was launched in 2017 with equivalent sales out-converting the old Worldstores site by 30%. It is perhaps no coincidence Dunelm was also named Favourite Online Retailer of the Year by House Beautiful in the same year. Today, the Dunelm website is able to support over 50,000 products and service over 12 million online transactions each year.

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