In 2017, Polywood had a great product sustainability story (its outdoor furniture is made from 100% recycled plastic and comes with a 20-year guarantee) and a solid launching pad for direct-to-consumer sales (a 27-year history of selling through big box, home improvement and specialty patio stores). What it didn’t have at that point was a streamlined, intuitive online checkout process — and that quickly became a major hindrance to the company’s DTC expansion plans.
“We had been using our online shopping cart’s default checkout process, which required five to six clicks to get to the point where you can check out,” said Sean Valencourt, EVP of Information Systems at Polywood in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It was an involved, intense process. Alongside that, because we’re a relatively high-value product that ships quickly, we were targeted by a fraud ring and ran the risk of not being able to process through that [challenge]. Once there’s a certain percentage of fraudulent orders, financial companies [can stop servicing you].”
The fraud threat got so bad that Polywood was “manually reviewing every order,” Valencourt added. “We became aware of Bolt right in the middle of this crisis. We were attracted because of their fraud offering and then we saw their checkout solution.”
After its late 2018 implementation of the Bolt one-click checkout solution, which draws on data within the solution provider’s network of users and consumers to fight fraud, Polywood saw impressive results:
- In its first year, the brand marked a 10% lift in checkout conversions, a 5.5% increase in monthly revenue and 40 hours per week saved that had been spent fighting fraud;
- After the second year of using the Bolt solution, the retailer saw nearly 50% conversion growth compared to the pre-deployment baseline.
Since that time, “I wasn’t expecting it to continue to go up, but the conversion rate has continued to climb,” said Valencourt.
‘We Aren’t Making Our Customers Hunt and Peck’
While cart abandonment can have many causes, overly complex checkout processes are certainly a major contributor. “Retailers spend all these marketing dollars to bring shoppers to their site, showcase their products and provide an experience, but 76% of shoppers abandon their cart prior to purchase,” said Shilpi Narang, SVP, Customer Experience at Bolt in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We’re working with merchants to increase their conversion rate, and the cornerstone is leveraging our shopper network and shopper recognition to provide services such as one-click registration and passwordless logins to take the friction out of the shopping process.”
“We know [customers] want the product — they added it to their cart,” said Valencourt. “What we love about the Bolt experience is that we aren’t making our customers hunt and peck and have to think about what to do next. It’s a really well-thought-out, frictionless flow.”
The Bolt solution also benefits from a network effect. “As the network grows, Polywood’s performance with Bolt grows,” said Narang. “With more shoppers in our network, that’s more shoppers at Polywood that can use one-click checkout. We also have a great fraud product, and a strong signal [within that] is [the ability to identify] a recognized shopper that has transacted with this merchant or others [in our network] and has a clean history. There are many other signals that go into fraud detection, including automated and manual reviews, and it’s another service that we provide to merchants.”
Bolt’s anti-fraud solution has allowed Polywood to focus its own employees’ efforts on improving customer service. “It’s freed us up to answer customer questions about the products,” said Valencourt. “We offer 25,000 different products if you include all the possible combinations, including more than 20 [of our signature] Adirondack chairs. That’s where we want to enable our customer service team, to help people pick the right thing for their space, their size and their use. We’re able to utilize our customer service agents to help customers versus walking them through the transaction process.”
On the Horizon: Enhanced Personalization and Purchasing at the Point of Inspiration
Bolt is continuing to seek ways to enhance the customer experience for its merchant clients. “In the area of personalization, what would it mean for loyalty efforts if you recognize the shopper at check-in, not even waiting until checkout?” said Narang. “That’s about creating a delightful experience for shoppers. Another area we see on the horizon is purchasing at the point of inspiration, meaning social shopping. Say someone discovered Polywood’s products in a blog or article — how would you go from that article [to purchase] via a one-click, passwordless experience? We want to grow those channels for our merchants and create additional revenue streams.”
Polywood has plans of its own: “We’re continuing to bring new products to market and we want to merchandise those in ways that help people,” said Valencourt, adding that “we might add 3D modeling and use AR on our site. With Bolt, it’s a nice thing to know that once people get over the ‘hump’ of buying a product online, they will help with that last 5%.”