The Uncrowd
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The Uncrowd

All Your Homebase Are Belong to Us

This article was originally published November 19th, 2018

Having said lots in our Homebase versus Which? blog ; and with that dramatic twist that Which? were right but for the wrong reasons; we wanted to go all practical and take a look at what change and improvement our Homebase Friction/Reward Indexing could actually drive.

As a startup, we’re constantly asked about our secret sauce. I always assume that means the secret stuff to we add to the data, rather than an assumption that as a pair of big lads we always keep a bottle of special BBQ sauce handy about our persons. Obviously we do have a constant supply of HP on hand but the proper Uncrowd secret sauce exists on a number of levels.

One of those levels relates to what a client gets to see that a non-client doesn’t. It’s this that makes this post slightly tricky; it’s not fair to show you Homebase’s specific numbers, what I can describe though is the process that we’ve used to identify the following opportunities.

  1. This is the version of the analysis based on the inclusion of a shopper-mission
  2. The mission: “Young family wanting to create a nice family living room. Prepared to learn how to do most of the work themselves but need help.”
  3. We indexed the Friction/Reward as described in the last blog
  4. We then modelled the impact of CX improvements — which ones made the greatest difference
  5. That threw up a set of priorities for Homebase — those fixes and improvements that would generate the greatest amount performance improvement

And that’s what generates the tables below. What’s most interesting is that where the Which? report found that the biggest issues were all functional hygiene ones; stock, search, pricing; FRi instead shows that it’s a less straightforward picture but one where the mix of activity is both clearly defined and more likely to create real improvement that actual customers respond to.

The highlighted projects list goes well beyond functional hygiene, with service and product development, and fundamental marketing and merchandising also appearing among the priority opportunities.

It’s the difference between a frankly depressing scream of FIX EVERYTHING AND WE MIGHT BE AVERAGE and the more engaging IF YOU FIX THESE THINGS, THEN THEY WILL RETURN. That precision and insight is kind of thrilling; the solutions listed below are pretty much off the top of my head, imagine what a creative and practical team could do given a week?

As a result it’s much easier to build a robust ROI model to justify any activity. If you already know the likely impact on not just CX in general but absolute competitiveness then, with a little allowance for lag and status quo bias, you are able to go well beyond the usual non-realistic if X then Y ROI modelling. You can be more confident in retention estimates and in acquisition targets.

  1. Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform
    FRi is an active platform; we’ve built it so that the important insight rises to the surface instantly and can be seen and acted upon swiftly. We have alerts and heatmaps and all sorts of fun tools on the platform to make this work for everyone.
  2. What that means in the context of the shopper mission
    We provide straightforward tools to clients to create this analysis themselves, though we also offer a paid-for service where our support analysts do it for them. Both are straightforward and scalable.
  3. Disciplines
    Where do these issues and opportunities live?
  4. What an FRi client might then do about this
    It’s that quality of contextual reality that makes this special. We’ve done this a number of times with real clients; watched them uncover dozens of great solutions because they are thinking about a problem at an intersection of that problem with reality. So search; if I know why somebody is searching then already it takes me off into new places. It’s ludicrously simple but it needs the initial direction and surfacing of areas to investigate that FRi provides.

Practical Output 1
Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform

Measuring up

What that means in the context of the shopper mission

Measuring up for a project like this one becomes a big issue. Goes beyond a tape measure and rule of thumb

Service development

What a client might then do about this
Lots of service ideas suggest themselves; four that I’d be looking at:

  1. At cost survey service
  2. Connected coverage calculators
  3. Homebase Easy-Measure kit: a combination of app and physical precision laser measuring device for loan
  4. Over-buy and under-buy schemes. Buy too much and we guarantee to take it back at stores. Underbuy and you get priority express delivery to top up the gap — both mitigate risk and wastage

Other services could include:

Call-off warehousing where Homebase keeps the stock for the customer but allows quick access guaranteeing that nothing can go out of stock during the project

iPhone measuring — though featured in the recent iOS update, it’s still not right but Homebase should be ready for the moment when it does

Practical Output 2
Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform


What that means in the context of the shopper mission

Coordinated delivery across a larger number of products is a high-friction item

Service development

What a client might then do about this
A coordinated delivery service that reduces overall delivery cost at the same time as keeping all deliveries diarised and notified in one chunk. Customer options to take deliveries in smallest number of drops and so on. Possibly direct access to a scheduling page.

Consider offering customers a ‘project duration delivery subscription’ — customer pays a flat fee for express delivery and/or the above services for a three-month project window. Keeps the customer coming back to Homebase first to take advantage of having pre-paid for premium services.

Practical Output 3
Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform

Price expectation

What that means in the context of the shopper mission

Even before engagement, the customer believes Homebase to be an expensive option that offers no advantage for that premium

Messaging and promotions

What a client might then do about this
Homebase already know from their own price surveys that they are not generally more expensive despite the perception. It’s back to the old disciplines of marketing: invest in messaging and promotions that restore customer understanding of your price positioning

Practical Output 4
Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform


What that means in the context of the shopper mission

When searching for multiple project items, both search itself and comparing found items becomes a very big deal

Functional ecommerce

What a client might then do about this
Easy search is an essential hygiene factor but by thinking in the context of this particular mission, it’s easy to find ways to enhance search that would put Homebase way ahead of rivals here.

I’d be looking at combining search with the measurement tools for a start.

Then I would consider creating pre-filled project search templates that show all the things you’ll typically need to think about to get this project done.

So you’d have line items such as:

  • Paint Door
  • Fit flooring
  • Prepare walls

Along each line you’d have columns for the essential project items and under each column heading the customer can populate their top three considered selections from within search. So they can at a glance compare three options for paint brushes, the three types of flooring they’ve narrowed it down to (automatically priced for the space) and so on.

So search is in the service of not just finding stuff but in finding the specific solutions to deliver a coordinated and satisfying project. Do this well and customers can search from within the project template itself ‘It says I need primer for the doors’ ‘click’ and only primers suitable for wood appear.

Do this for the critical missions you know customers want Homebase to help them with and you also potentially win ‘first visit advantage’ which is when customers come to you first because they believe you’re the most likely to deliver the most help in finding their shopping solution. They will still shop around but we know that when a retailer is visited first that retailer’s likelihood of making the sale rockets.

Practical Output 5
Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform


What that means in the context of the shopper mission

This isn’t just a bit of paint and a floor — this is the room the family will play, love and share in together. Customers don’t give responsibility for helping deliver that to businesses they don’t trust


What a client might then do about this
Long term process to rebuild the trust Homebase lost as a result of the tumultuous Bunnings exit, but identifying the impact and value of this rebuilding helps direct investment and messaging to the right places

Practical Output 6
Issues/opportunities automatically surfaced by the FRi platform

Animated listings

What that means in the context of the shopper mission

When browsing for a project like this; customers are often choosing relatively fast and across a larger number of buys — the candidate items need to leap out of the screen

Merchandising and functional ecommerce

What a client might then do about this
We all want to make our listings more exciting and there’s an army of solution providers out there doing everything from procedurally generated 3D and films, to breaking product out of boring boxes (can highly recommend for the latter). So it’s on the wish list but that’s been where the problem lay previously — knowing the real value of investing in this area. FRi makes the process of building an ROI for such things much more scientific, accurate and actionable. FRi will tell you if this is worth doing and in this particular case; it is.

How Uncrowd helps with all of this

The first and most important part of improving CX is understanding where you have opportunities and challenges in the first place. That is a primary failing of current measurement metrics, which are either too vague to be precise, or identify pain/positive points only in isolation and without context. You’ll end up spending millions on reducing queues or on introducing bot customer care, or worse pump millions into promotions that don’t end up actually influencing preference very much.

So we’ve created our FRi platform to operate as a daily tracking service; to keep things nice and clear and easy, you initially see just a single-page dashboard. The dashboards are incredibly simple summaries that work thus:

A. Top level FRi tells you the state of play.
B. Comparisons with competitors identifies gaps and advantages
C. The bottom third of the screen points to exactly what the cause of those gaps/advantages is and how to close or extend them

So a head of a function can see at a glance, daily, exactly where they stand. They can then with tremendous ease pass the headlines to their teams to work on. It’s a level of easy CX precision that has never existed in retail before.

What sits beneath those dashboards is hugely powerful but again we’ve kept things straightforward, practical and actionable.

I was asked to summarise for investors the other day how FRi works and what the point of doing it might be. It’s surprisingly difficult to do it when you get so close to a thing that every single part of it feels like you’ve bled to create it. There is a brutality in paring down your beautiful machine into it’s constituent parts.

When I make you a loaf of tasty fresh bread, where I’ve kneaded it lovingly and possibly inadvertently added quite a lot of my own skin and drops of sweat into the mix, I don’t want to have to mechanically explain to you how to eat it; I desperately want you to go ‘yummy, Hammond Skin Loaf, I will enjoy that immediately with some butter and jam’ but with something new like FRi, it’s almost heart-breaking to have to go ‘do A, then B, then C, then D and then you get X and Y and Z’. So, you monsters, here’s what I had to say to investors the other day.

  1. Customers’ choice of where to spend their money is driven by the effort required to shop a particular retailer (friction) versus the gain derived from doing so (reward).
  2. We measure all customer friction variables and all customer reward variables and use these to generate Friction/Reward Indexes (FRi).
  3. FRi are then generated for every critical customer mission x common need-states.
  4. Once a retailer has these they can benchmark against competitors and against their own performance
  • When a retailer knows exactly why customers like them, they can do that more often across more of their total CX
  • When a retailer knows exactly why customers are leaving to rivals, they have the best possible roadmap to stopping that churn
  • Massive reduction in churn saves huge sums; it is 5 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to keep a current one
  • FRi provides accurate guidance as to where budget is best applied — reduces wasted spend

And that’s the opportunity both for you and for us: Homebase or whomever get to save money, increase revenue and spend money more wisely if they index Friction/Reward. We have an incredible tool to get you, or they there.



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