Harvey Jacobson and Michael Ziff have begun the revival of footwear retailer Barratts by trialling a new website at Barratts.co.uk.
Promotional emails were sent out to 8,000 Barratts customers from the company’s 1.6 million database on April 27, but with eight times the number of customers logging in the website crashed for nearly four hours.
Despite this hiccup, Jacobson – chairman of the website’s parent company W Barratt & Co – hailed the trial run as “fantastic”.
“The conversion rate from these trials is usually 0.3%, but we had well over 1% of people placing orders online,” he said. “The site went down for a few hours, but it is good news – we solved the computer glitch and learned from our mistakes.”
Jacobson said the process of rolling the new website out would be “slow and carefully handled” to ensure it can handle the volume of visitors. Daily updates, which will introduce features such as 360-degree photography, will “get it to where it needs to be”.
“We are a bit behind the times with photography compared with other footwear retailers, but the site will be added to step by step,” he said, forecasting that by August it will be “as slick as it should be”.
The website, into which Jacobson and Barratts former chief executive Ziff have ploughed £1m, at present stocks around 20 brands including Birkenstock, Crocs, Kickers, Skechers and Dunlop. The brand list is expected to double for autumn 14. When complete, women’s footwear will account for half the available styles, men’s will make up 35% and children’s 15%.
“I wasn’t keen on the idea of kids’ footwear, but Rebecca [Dunn, head of buying] pushed me into it, and I now know there is a definite market for it. We are a family shoe shop online,” Jacobson said.
“We have an idea of who we are but we’re still not 100% sure. Once we get hits and orders from our customers, we’ll learn more about who our customer is and who Barratts is as a company.”
W Barratt & Co acquired Barratts’ website and intellectual property on December 20, 2013, for £300,000. The original footwear business went into administration for the third time in five years in November following difficult trading conditions.