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Shopwatch: Psyche

Its new website is the latest landmark in a period of redevelopment for Middlesbrough independent Psyche

Psyche owner Steve Cochrane is hoping his relaunched website will gain the same recognition as his Middlesbrough department store, and expand the independent retailer’s presence both nationally and internationally.

It caps off another spate of investment for Psyche, which has a 35,000 sq ft store at 175-187 Linthorpe Road and, most recently, a 4,000 sq ft store called Style Lab in the nearby Wesley Mall in the Cleveland Centre, which opened in October.

Psyche stocks more than 150 brands for men, women and kids, with an emphasis on menswear from brands including Hugo Boss, Paul Smith, Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, Barbour and Ted Baker, while Style Lab offers lower-priced young fashion brands such as Humör, Religion and Cheap Monday.

Last October, the stock rooms on Psyche’s ground, first and second floors were all moved to the third floor to provide more trading space. The result on the ground floor is an expanded denim department, where a new Edwin area sits alongside other denim labels such as Nudie, Denham, Levi’s and Evisu.

Cochrane is now overseeing a refit of the ground floor men’s changing room to resemble a luxury yacht, as well as a 1,600 sq ft bistro and champagne bar, which is under construction on the first floor and is expected to open after Easter. The bistro will open seven days a week during store hours and will be run by a third-party operator.

Moving the stock rooms also allowed the expansion on the second floor of the women’s accessories area, with the addition of brands such as Coach. Kidswear has been relocated and expanded onto this floor too, and where previously Psyche only stocked brands from Children Worldwide Fashion - including Hugo Boss, Burberry and Timberland - it now also offers Little Joules and Eleven Paris, among others.

Last year Psyche made sales of £6.1m and says this year has started well, with womenswear up 49.7% for the year to date, and men’s tailoring up 23.2%. Menswear as a whole is up 9% but kidswear has had a difficult season so far, down 12.7%, which Cochrane says is partly due to some late deliveries.

Style Lab was quieter than expected in the autumn but since then sales have picked up. “By autumn, we will be up and running and I have high expectations for that store,” he says.

“It is also very scalable and easier to roll out than a full department store like Psyche, so there is opportunity there too.”

A dedicated Style Lab website is planned to launch for autumn 15.

Online accounts for 20% of total sales at Psyche and Cochrane hopes to increase this to 50% by 2017. The website attracts about 150,000 unique views per month, which is also forecast to grow significantly.

“Our targets are quite achievable, especially thanks to this new site,” he says.

Psyche’s first transactional website launched in 1997 and the latest incarnation launched on March 19, with a fresh design and improved functionality.

It was produced by Visualsoft in just 13 weeks using a bespoke ecommerce platform, known as VS3, which will be updated regularly.

The site will be updated daily with new stock and there are plans to expand the eight-strong web team with a handful of appointments, including a graphic designer.

The design is clean and user-friendly, with a hover functionality that allows customers to view different images when they hover over an item. Key details are listed under the ‘Stylist Notes’, such as extra features, fabric description and washing instructions. It also suggests other similar items to cross-sell or upsell based on what a customer is viewing and there is an option to share on the usual social media sites.

Editorial features include a ‘Shop the Look’ section offering style inspiration, which is written in-house, and a ‘Brand Focus’ to highlight new or particularly relevant labels, as well as a blog called Psyche-ology.

The site is integrated with Psyche’s Epos system, so order and stock data is synchronised between the physical and online store. If a product is out of stock there is the option to request an email when stock is replenished and click-and-collect from store is available. It also clearly states what the usual dispatch time is. Psyche offers same-day dispatch before 3pm on Mondays to Fridays and two-day delivery via Royal Mail is free of charge.

Checkout has been optimised to decrease basket abandonment and includes dynamic address look-up. The site also automatically sends email reminders to shoppers who abandon their baskets before purchase to try and recover lost sales.

“It is much more powerful so we should get a greater market penetration and reach. The functionality is excellent,” says Cochrane.

“While the old site was responsive, this one is much better on mobiles and handheld devices, which is where the growth online is coming from. It’s also more optimised, which should mean we rank a lot better than the old site.

“The main difference is the back-end functionality is much better, which is very exciting for us. We can make the changes instantly ourselves and I can even do it remotely from my phone when I’m travelling if I need to.

“It gives us a lot more access and control – because it is such a fast-moving space you have to be able to react much quicker.”

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