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How Rawnet redesigned customer experience across 12 brands and 28 domains for Hornby | #BehindTheIdea

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How do you redesign an entire brand portfolio to drive forward a 120-year-old business? Rawnet may have a few tips to share in that regard.

Hornby Hobbies is a reputable business with a good 12 brands and 28 domains in total. Just like most brands and businesses in the Covid crisis, Hornby realised that their brand could do so much more and develop a much more solid brand community, given the right platform to support its ambitions. Rawnet started work on a flexible, modern and easy to monitor platform with completely renewed user and customer experience, effectively redesigning the customer journey across all of Hornby's portfolio.

It is always thrilling to see an established business embrace digital in such an organic and powerful way; the screengrabs you can see below are a solid testimony to the efforts of Rawnet in this project. Today we are getting Behind The Idea following a quick chat with Sam Evans, Strategy Director, to learn more about what made this project so incredibly unique.


What was the brief?

Hornby needed someone to support them to redesign the customer experience across its 12 brands and 28 domains to optimise performance and drive the business forward.  A digital roadmap needed to be created and the site needed rebuilding to be a bespoke and scalable platform that frees Hornby from ongoing licensing fees and a rigid user experience. The focus is to make a real difference from others in its industry and online B2C retail in general.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

Good, we presented the Hornby team with lots of great ideas on how they can steer away from being just another online shop. We demonstrated some great ways how core user experiences within an ecommerce environment could be tailored to Hornby. We also discussed how various personas (beginners through to experts) could become more engaged with the brand through community and loyalty. A core part of the pitch was to also demonstrate our technical expertise with being able to link the 28 storefronts into Hornby Hobbies back-office systems.

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

Our core objectives from the outset for the project were as follows:

  • Reduce the barrier of entry by educating users on all brands
  • Create the underlying foundations of a brand community
  • Provide a great customer experience in all areas of the website, not just the shop
  • Provide customers at all levels the support and guidance they need
  • Develop a platform that we can monitor and build upon with as little limitation as possible
  • Improve online sales

These were closely followed within the production phase of the project bringing the project to life and giving us the platform to make a ‘different’ kind of online store. Since the launch, development has been ongoing and lots of new features are in the pipeline.

What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

Very good, we worked with core project stakeholders in numerous teams across the business such as finance, technical, marketing, sales, digital etc plus the brand managers across the UK, US and Europe. The challenge was really around communication through video calls more than anything. Producing a project of this scale is much easier in person as you can read the room and see if something is not quite right for certain teams or someone is not on the same page. It all worked out in the end though.


What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the project?

I think the fact that right from the start of the scoping in February 2020 through to the go-live date at the end of January 2021 everyone was working remotely. The output just goes to show that learning a new way of working whilst delivering the project didn’t impact the outcome. It may have taken a little longer than expected (not unusual with a project of this scale) but both the project teams at Hornby and Rawnet managed to work closely and well together as a collective.

What’s the main message of the project and why does it matter?

Create the underlying foundations of a brand community by providing a great customer experience that is not another online shop.

What is one unique aspect of the project?

The order process is fairly intense in the background but we like to think the checkout is easy to use on the front end. It was a challenge to create a great user experience with the tailored requirements the brand has. The requirements are business-critical and legit but would not be doable without bespoke development. We have 12 brands and 28 storefronts, across 6 languages with 3 available currencies taking multiple orders at all points throughout the day across the globe so you can imagine the scale of detail required (plus reporting on top of that within the administration). 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

11 months!

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

Additional community engagement, brand loyalty, increased sales and customer lifetime value.


Credit list for the project?

  • Ann-Cathrin Will, UI Lead Developer, Rawnet
  • Federico D'Uva, Lead Marketing Strategist, Rawnet
  • Jan Lucki, Head of Development, Rawnet
  • Manjit Gill, Senior Project Manager, Rawnet
  • Neal Wright, Senior UX Designer 
  • Mat Johnson, Lead Designer, Rawnet
  • Matthew Thomas, Senior Devops Engineer, Rawnet
  • Sam Evans, Strategy Director, Rawnet
  • Christopher Russell, E-commerce Manager, Hornby Hobbies LTD
  • Jamie Buchanan, Head of Strategy Delivery, Hornby Hobbies LTD
  • Nelson Castillo, Online Growth Specialist, Hornby Hobbies LTD
  • Tim Mulhall, Chief Operations Office, Hornby Hobbies LTD
  • Mark Lodge, AX Support Analyst, Hornby Hobbies LTD
  • Tim Best, Head of IT and Systems, Hornby Hobbies LTD
  • Ami Stirrups, Digital Team Manager, Hornby Hobbies 


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