May 2021


Q: Why did you decide to update your website after the big relaunch last year? Chris Sargant: We have continually developed the site over the years and we launched our brand new version in July last year. But we were still falling down on the ultimate conversion – browsing to purchase. Our cart abandonment wasn’t great and our old checkout system was like a Chinese puzzle box! So a couple of months ago we upgraded the

transactional side to be more automated so it would link in with our EPOS system and back-end. We improved that side of things a lot and tried to make it the best it could be. We instantly got much better traffic and we’ve

seen a very strong uplift in conversion; it shows the power of the shopping experience, as we didn’t add anything extra – like payment or delivery options – but it’s just a much smoother process and now we can see a clear uplift in sales. It indicates to us that we made the right decision to make these changes.

Q: Who runs the website? CS: The website is run in-house by myself and two other members of staff. My colleague, Matt, has been with the company since the age of 18 and he’s now 40! In that time he’s developed the site and all the back-end systems such a lot and built up the automation behind the site. He’s got a lot of technical know-how – we call him Captain Coding! We’ve also got Paul in the team, and then when I

joined the business I helped direct their genius towards the parts of the site that needed working on. I really don’t like the idea of saying ‘we are getting

busier, we need more people’; in fact I believe we need better processes, that’s the reality. For example, we had to do a lot of things manually back in the day, working between the site and our database. But through introducing various automated steps into the process it now takes information from the site and puts into the EPOS system, it changes delivery information and any associated charges, it tells us if payment has been successful or tells us of any fraud

issues. And of course once the transaction has gone through it can allocate the stock. All we left behind in these changes is our little

RDO touch – we call the customer to make sure they’re happy with what they’ve ordered, which simply helps to reduce any risk of returns, as that can happen with online shopping.

Q: What would you say are some of the standout functions of the site? CS: The live chat facility is very important to us. We make sure we are always available to answer questions so customers don’t bounce from our site to others potentially. Once this happens they are unlikely to bounce back! So we have to capture them when they’re with us and make sure we are as helpful as possible. Customer reviews are also crucial on the

website to show people what others are saying. Businesses like ours, we are all selling the same things; the only point of difference is pricing, logistics and service, so if you’re able to articulate to customers that you offer the best service they can justify their decision to shop with you – and that’s really important. We get a lot of referrals so it’s super important

to drive traffic to the site and we keep a close eye on all activity. We encourage customers to leave a review after payment and delivery and this goes through to Trustpilot.

Q: And you offer a fast delivery service to support online sales don’t you? CS: Yes we’ve had our own warehouse facility for a long time but we've had our own delivery team and fleet of vehicles for about 30 years; we offer nationwide next-day delivery and we also work with logistics partners on this. We have actually found that the most important

thing for customers is just knowing which day their products will arrive, so the nominated delivery slots tend to be more popular than next-day and this helps us make our routing a bit more efficient. But we are really able to compete with the big

online players by offering super quick delivery; that’s been our aim for a while.

33 And the award goes to…

Chris’s father, Roger, who is Senior Partner, joins the conversation to talk about what it was like when RDO won the ERT Awards trophy for Best Independent Electrical Retailer Website during the virtual Awards ceremony back in December… Roger Sargant: I have to say, it really blew

us away! Staff were jumping around, they were so excited and it gave us such a lift at a time when things were so bleak for everyone. The whole team was so pleased to win and I thank ERT and the judges for naming us the winner! Our customer support guy was actually on

the phone when we won, and as the noise erupted from all the staff watching throughout our offices and shop floor, he wondered what on earth was going on! I think it was quite distracting! The core of our business will always be our

store in Reigate but the website has really bolstered our store experience and knitted together the whole customer experience, which is what we set out to achieve. We’ve always looked inwardly at how we

could be that one per cent better, and sometimes you wonder if you’re doing the right things, but to get that recognition showed us we are doing things right. The web team worked so hard on the site – day and night to get it up and running – anyone who’s built a retail website will know just how much work has to go into building and maintaining it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time during the worst part of the pandemic last year. It’s a remarkable achievement!

Chris Sargant on the left with his father, Roger

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