Craig Wheeler is Operations Director at fast-growing premium beauty products website Feelunique.com. Based at the company’s Jersey offices, and frequently jetting over to the London office, Paris Stores and Northampton warehouse, he has responsibility for customer experience, logistics, site content, beauty services, business systems and business development programmes.
Craig has previously worked at Play.com, QVC and Dixons, and has vast experience of retail supply chain management, buying and merchandising, setting up IT systems to support cross channel operations, and project managing new launches and customer experience initiatives.
Clearly Craig is a busy retail executive, but we’re very pleased that he’s found time to speak at the eDelivery Conference, taking place at Novotel London on October 11th.
What does your role with Feelunique.com involve?
I look after everything to do with the customer experience from the usability of the website to customer service, and operations across the distribution centres and the supply chain. I run an IT project team, and have recently been kept busy launching a new business in France and getting our Pick ‘n’ Mix offer up and running. This is a very popular addition to the website – it allows customers to choose up to five samples to have sent out to them once a month with only a small handling fee to pay (which is refunded by gift voucher).
What excites you about the job?
I love the fast pace of the beauty market and I love everything to do with ecommerce. In this business you can measure success so easily and see progress being made very quickly. I have 20 years’ experience of the ecommerce sector now, and perfecting the art of getting it right has become a real passion. At Feelunique we’re seeing 30% growth year-on-year in the UK, 800% growth year-on-year in China, and 80% year-on-year growth in France, so it’s an exciting time to be looking internationally and reaching new audiences. I like the fact that our brand has succeeded in building a reputation for excellent customer service. We’ve had to prove that to the big beauty names such as Dior, Chanel and Clarins in order for them to join us and stay on board. And we’ve had to prove ourselves to customers as well. Having the right systems and logistics behind the scenes has been vital in generating that trust and enthusiasm for the business.
What do you find challenging about the ecommerce space today?
Customers are a big challenge. They are unpredictable and very demanding and becoming more so. But at Feelunique we have very loyal customers who are genuine fans of what we do, and tell us what they want. It can be tough to win new customers when you don’t have a high street presence. But we have achieved great successes through the beauty blogger community and viral marketing. The bloggers drive a lot of traffic to the site and of course this is a cost effective way of building the customer base and promoting our brand.
What is Feelunique doing that sets it apart from the competition?
We put a lot of thought and effort into our service from making a host of delivery options available, right down to the delivery packaging customers’ shampoos, lipsticks, and bronzers turn up in. We measure many aspects of the customer experience and we tell people what we’re doing to improve things, and I think this sets us apart.
Your theme at the conference is ‘Working Better with Suppliers to Maximise Visibility and Drive Customer Satisfaction’. What can we expect to hear about?
Supplier relationships are increasingly critical to supply chain effectiveness, and in this case I’m talking about the packaging suppliers we use and the carriers who fulfil our orders. For packaging we work very closely with McFarlane. Using customer feedback surveys we make sure customers are satisfied with the boxes being used, and if they aren’t we get things changed. A lot of behavioural change is being driven by these relationships. Equally we get instant customer feedback on the delivery service received, by sending out very simple, mobile friendly emails to ask for feedback as soon as an item has arrived with customers. We’ve used ITinsell to do this, and found that 12% to 15% of customers are happy to give feedback. It means we can reflect on the quality of the box – which might have arrived crumpled or opened – and on the quality of the delivery service. It gives us real transparency and takes the guesswork out of how our operations are performing. This means my conversations with board are based on fact rather than hypothesis.
So what will delegates learn?
They will hopefully take away insights into how greater collaboration will improve efficiency over time. I am very keen to share what I’ve learnt about the power of customer feedback following a delivery too as this can have a dramatic impact on customer retention and brand reputation. I’ll be looking into the obstacles faced and where ROI can be most easily achieved.
Craig Wheeler, Operations Director at Feelunique will be speaking on ‘Working Better with Suppliers to Maximise Visibility and Drive Customer Satisfaction’ at the eDelivery Conference, 11 October 2016, taking place at the Novotel, Hammersmith, London