Laura Canada has launched its first e-commerce site, the first step in a multi-channel online shopping and marketing strategy for the Montreal-based women’s fashion retailer of more than 175 stores across Canada.
Laura operates several retail banners including Laura, Laura Petites, Laura Plus and Melanie Lyne.
The digital strategy is being headed by Sam Barnes, director of e-commerce at Laura Canada, who the company recruited in December. Previously, Barnes had roles in e-commerce and online strategy and development at Thomas Cook Group, Home Depot Canada and Canadian Tire, among others.
In addition to hiring Barnes, Laura Canada also consulted New York-based e-commerce strategy firm Digital Prophets Network, in mapping out a multi-channel online strategy.
“The company really wanted to take the time to do [a transactional site] right,” explains Barnes. “I think we’ve been able to leap-frog competitors in terms of overall quality of experience, with the richness of the photography, the detail in the product description, and the overall ease of use.”
Twist Image of Montreal developed and designed the front end of the site, which includes unique features like “Shop the Look” that allows shoppers to buy a complete outfit with one click. Twist Image also helped with online banner ads and a Google AdWords buy to promote the site.
The site will also be advertised through Laura’s e-newsletter, which has moved to a weekly delivery of targeted offers as opposed to once a month. In stores, sales associates took part in a promotional effort called “Take the Store Home with You” by handing customers $5 discount cards or online purchases to incentivize them to try the site.
In the coming months, Laura Canada will expand its digital footprint into social media. “My theory is that you don’t start with social media. It has to augment an existing platform,” said Barnes. “As it is, we’ve made it easy for people to use Pinterest from our site, for example, and we’ll be expanding into Facebook, Twitter and the other usual channels moving forward.
“We just wanted to make sure that we had that core online experience really solid before we rolled out other things.”