New - Laura Ashley case study

Laura Ashley

Driving continuous incremental growth
for this quintessentially British brand


New - Laura Ashley case study

Laura Ashley

Driving continuous incremental growth
for this quintessentially British brand


We've been Laura Ashley's ecommerce partner for over six years and in that time, we've accomplished a lot together. It’s rare to know a client so completely – almost all departments, the personalities, needs and goals of everybody – creating a great relationship with their ever growing ecommerce team. It’s also very humbling to have been entrusted with pushing their ecommerce forwards for so long.


Responsive Redesign

As mobile and tablet use exploded, Laura Ashley took a route typical to many retailers. We launched a separate mobile site a few years ago to capitalise on this growing area (which eConsultancy named one of the slickest back in July 2012). However, as tablet use began to fill the middle ground, we knew that the future lay in a responsive website to cater for all devices.

The brief for this project began with creating a responsive site and then grew to include reinterpreting their brand online and taking a significant leap in user experience, especially around complex made to measure and made to order products. Added to that was a need to launch it all in 6 months, from start to finish.

We launched into a rapid process of working very closely with Laura Ashley, packing in stakeholder interviews, sketches and wireframes to map out the new user experience. Armed with the right UX, we then set about creating a new design that would do justice to Laura Ashley's brand position.

With all the user facing work complete, we set about its implementation. Laura Ashley's website utilises the Venda platform (a PaaS service) in addition to our own bespoke platform for complex products such as made to order sofas, curtains, blinds and furniture. Working across both platforms, our development team worked iteratively, using agile techniques and processes.

The site was launched in time to take advantage of the peak Christmas period and the lucrative sales that follow.


Complex Products

Our journey with Laura Ashley started due to a thorny problem. They offered a lot of complex products that weren't available online - made to measure curtains and blinds, and made to order sofas and furniture. They didn't know how much revenue they were missing out on as a result of these products not being available online - as it turns out, it was around 50%.

We started work on the problem back in 2008, as a result of Laura Ashley seeing some similar work we'd done for Next, proving the concept. Their ecommerce platform, Venda, was not capable of supporting this kind of product. The initial solution was a completely bespoke and separate website for these products with its own checkout, registration and so on. Whilst not ideal, it made the products available online and produced large incremental revenue.


With some advances in the Venda platform, we merged the two sites so that our bespoke platform could add products into the Venda basket and checkout process, finally allowing us to provide a seamless experience, with the customer never realising they are using two separate platforms. This resulted in a further large improvement in customer experience and conversion.


Imagery and Mapping

Laura Ashley came to us with another problem. They have a range of over 200 sofas, many of which come in 150 different fabrics. Their made to measure curtains are available in 250 fabrics and have 8 different heading types. This adds up to a vast amount of potential product photography to show every sofa/curtain in every fabric. The cost of making up 30,000 sofas for example, just to be photographed, is inconceivable, especially when you consider that new ranges and fabrics are created every season.

We stepped in with a smart piece of mapping technology, that allows Laura Ashley to send us just one white sofa/curtain image per shape and all available fabrics as flat swatches. We then use the technology to create 3D models and render each fabric to produce photorealistic versions of all sofas and curtains in all fabrics. This outputs a huge amount of imagery and provides a massive jump in user experience, allowing customers to see every possible combination of sofa/curtain and fabric.



Continuous Iteration and Testing

We've talked about some of the major highlights of our work, but there's a lot more going on beneath the surface, including:

  • Click & Collect – implementation of Laura Ashley's first (and now very popular) Click & Collect service
  • Instant decision interest free credit – saving the Laura Ashley back office team huge amounts of work and providing a better customer experience
  • Split testing – many small improvements throughout the site, validated by split testing
  • Usability testing – checking in with users periodically to see what they think of the site and setting specific tasks; we can always find something to improve that data alone may not reveal
  • SEO improvements – Venda's out of the box SEO options are not vast, so we help Laura Ashley's agency improve their onsite SEO
  • International launches – Laura Ashley are already in France, with further European expansion planned

58% overall rise in conversion rate

60% rise on mobile and a 102% rise on desktop


The Applause

“We found Blueleaf due to their prior experience of this kind of ecommerce work and have felt confident and assured at every project milestone achieved. They not only have the knowledge and experience to help us but also challenge us and suggest new ways of doing things we may not have previously considered. We’re very satisfied with the end result and look forward to working with them further on various other projects.”

Gail Cayuela, Head of Direct Business



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