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Case Study: Museum of London’s online shop sales increased by 144%

Rita Rooney, Buying and Merchandising Manager at the Museum of London, talks us through how her team worked with the Digital Culture Network’s Tech Champion, Emma Roberts.

Screengrab of Museum of London's online shop

About the organisation

The Museum of London tells the story of Londoners from prehistoric times to the present day. We also have the Museum of London Docklands, which gives the history of the London docks.

My name is Rita Rooney, and as Buying and Merchandising Manager I am responsible for the museum’s retail offer. This includes the buying and merchandising functions, the operation of our physical shops and our online shop. I work with Harriet Sweet-Escott, Retail & eCommerce Coordinator, who oversees and edits the online shop. In her role she updates new products, and makes improvements to the design, layout and function of the online shop. Our goal is to ensure a smoother customer experience and hopefully increase sales, average order values and conversion rates.

What did you want to achieve?

We have quite a small team within Retail and as such we have limited resources to  realise our ambitions for the online shop. Currently, however, with ongoing Coronavirus restrictions leading to long periods of closure for the museum, there is a greater emphasis within the organisation on our digital offer. As a result, eCommerce has come to the fore as a revenue-generating opportunity which we are keen to maximise. We wanted to look at ways to make tweaks to our existing online shop: increasing traffic, improving conversion rates, reducing drop-outs at checkout, increasing order values and encouraging repeat purchases.

Recently we have started to work more closely with our Communications department, so were interested in suggestions for integrating a shop focus as part of our marketing communications going forward.

What led you to contact the Digital Culture Network?

Last year I attended a webinar that Tech Champion Emma Roberts delivered. As we are funded by the Arts Council I decided to contact her to see if she could offer some advice.

How did you do it?

Emma was very helpful in setting up a series of regular meetings. These covered auditing our current online offer and making suggestions on how we could try to make tweaks to capitalise on any ‘low-hanging fruit’, as well as offering advice on how we could use the help of our colleagues in the Communications department in order to highlight shop ranges in any future marketing and social media activity.

What happened?

Since we started working with Digital Culture Network we have begun meeting regularly with our colleagues in the Communications department. This has allowed us to maximise our income in the run-up to Christmas with great results.

It’s also afforded us the opportunity to put some of Emma’s suggestions into practice such as regularly featuring shop products in monthly museum emails, introducing a regular shop-specific newsletter to target audiences who have opted to hear from the shop. The improvement of sales generated from email campaigns are listed below:

Email Campaign Number of sales from campaign Total sales from campaign
October – 4 Email Campaigns 20 £673.15
November – 8 Email Campaigns 57 £2,077.46
December – 7 Email Campaigns 142 £4,122.21
January– 5 Email Campaigns 33 £882.19

 

We tested offering discount codes as part of our marketing strategy and have seen successes in encouraging more click-throughs from emails, thereby attracting more online customers and an improved conversion rate. Following this, we found that some customers did not always use the code so we were still able to maintain profitability.

We set up Apple Pay to speed up payments for iPhone and Mac users, and we are also investigating the addition of adding PayPal as a payment method.

Lastly, we have made tweaks to the layout of the online shop, as advised by Emma. For example, we slowed down the banner speed to give the customers more time to focus. We also tweaked the navigation menu to make it easier for the customer to find what they’re looking for, ensuring a smoother customer journey.

We have been really pleased to see our online sales increase in Q4 by 144% year-on-year.  Further to this, we also saw an increase of 72% for the period April 20 – January 21 compared to the previous April 19 – January 20. This is despite our online shop being non-operational from April 20 – August 20 due to Covid-19 and museum closure. Therefore we have made 72% more revenue in 6 months than in 10 months of the previous year.

To support these statements, please see below the improvements to our monthly sales, conversions and traffic by month and year on year.

 

Oct 20 / 19 Nov 20 / 19 Dec 20 / 19 Jan 21 / 20
Total sales (exc. VAT and shipping) +89% YOY +189% YOY +159% YOY +47% YOY
Conversion rate (Checkout to purchase) 1.67%
0.95%
+76% YOY
2.94%
1.71%
+72% YOY
3.97%
2.29%
+73% YOY
2.25%
0.94%
+139% YOY

 

Learnings

Since working with Digital Culture Network we have been inspired to carry out a full review of our online offer. This will help us  plan for a programme of continuous improvements to be made over the coming months to maximise revenue and improve conversions by further understanding our customers’ journey and their motivations to purchase.

What is your advice to others thinking about contacting the Digital Culture Network?

We would recommend the Digital Culture Network to any eligible organisation looking for ways to strengthen their eCommerce offer. The experience was very helpful in focusing our efforts on proven ways to increase revenue as they had lots of ideas and suggestions to offer based on past experience. With the sudden increase in importance of a digital offer in the sector it can seem quite daunting to work out how to make improvements with relatively limited resources, but the support given by the Digital Culture Network helped break this down into manageable steps that gave immediate results.

Bestsellers over the past few months:

Screenshots of items sold in Museum of London shop

What’s next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up for our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

Original article created in April 2021. Author: Emma Roberts.

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