Hobbycraft, the UK’s largest arts and craft retailer, has partnered with Astound Commerce, to create a transformational eCommerce platform designed to power business growth, while inspiring its customers and empowering them to create. The replatforming implementation is central to the brand’s roadmap as it seeks to expand its multichannel offering to further fulfil its mission to ‘Get Britain Making’.
Founded in 1995, Hobbycraft has since grown to a nationwide business with over 100 stores across the UK, ready to support and inspire an ever-expanding variety of crafts, arts and hobbies. It provides crafting enthusiasts with everything they need for art, knitting and crochet, haberdashery, papercraft, wedding and party goods, baking and jewellery making, with its Hobbycraft Club currently subscribed to by more than 5 million members.
Following exceptional eCommerce growth during the Covid-19 pandemic, the retailer welcomed more than 1.3 million new customers as people rediscovered old hobbies or found new ones during lockdown. Off the back of this accelerated online growth trajectory, Hobbycraft understood the need to digitally transform to meet the enhanced online expectations of customers post-pandemic, including frictionless access to leading product ranges and exceptional customer service.
However, its legacy eCommerce platform had reached its capacity and couldn’t meet the retailer’s desire to scale or provide the seamless omnichannel experiences its shoppers now expect, with 60 per cent of all in-store visits currently beginning online. Additionally, the Hobbycraft team were unable to dynamically make changes to the site or easily create merchandising and content needed to elevate the digital buying experience. Overall, this meant customer experience was limited, with the ability to align inspiration and products and provide personalisation compromised while any changes that needed to be made to the website were often time-consuming to implement.
Following a competitive pitch, Astound Commerce was selected to deliver the new Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) platform, which it built and implemented using Astound’s best-in-class SFCC accelerator, Velocity Reference Architecture (VRA). VRA enabled a robust baseline for Hobbycraft’s complex requirements and was supplemented with key third-party technologies, including Bazaarvoice to integrate product ratings, reviews and Q&As and cross-border selling specialist, Global-e, to enable Hobbycraft shoppers across the world to pay in local currency and use local delivery services for order fulfilment.
Bloomreach was deployed to provide a richer and more personalised search experience and enhanced merchandising and web content to improve conversion rates, while its CDP enables Hobbycraft to use multiple internal and external data sources to further power and enrich personalisation. Additionally, the extensive backend capabilities of the platform have increased efficiency for the Hobbycraft team, making marketing, merchandising and the management of the site much less time-consuming. The integration of ClassBento onto the platform means enthusiasts can now access workshops where they can discover new crafts and master top techniques with help from Hobbycraft’s in-house colleagues and Artisans.
By deploying MuleSoft’s open API-driven systems architecture, Hobbycraft now has real-time visibility across the different solutions it deploys to manage product, prices, store operations, customer engagement, orders and inventory updates. This has also stream-lined the integration with its carrier management platform, Sorted, and has enhanced the future capability to integrate emerging channels and features.
Matt Louth, IT director, at Hobbycraft, commented: “Our exceptional eCommerce growth during lockdown made clear the importance of placing digital transformation at the heart of our multichannel offering to ensure we have the right capabilities in place to support and grow the business. We chose to partner with Astound Commerce because of their unparalleled experience and knowledge and they were a trusted partner in every way – working as an extension of our team and providing the highest levels of technical and delivery expertise.”
Astound Commerce MD, Samuel Cane, commented: “Hobbycraft is a great success story having worked tirelessly to innovate and support its community of crafters during lockdown. It has been a pleasure to partner with the team to shape this next step of their digital transformation with a scalable and future proof platform that can support engagement with their loyal customers and drive the business’ expansion plans across channels and devices, whilst ensuring customer experiences are upheld at each touchpoint.”