The Original Factory Shop

9 September 2014

  • the original factory shop case study

Business and digital strategy project to outline the role and define the profitability of the ecommerce sales channel within a multi-channel high street retail business.

Michael had been brought in prior to my appointment to support the business on its multi-channel growth plan which included overall ecommerce strategy, optimising on multi-channel opportunities, identifying the required infrastructure to deliver the plan, ranging advice, web vendor selection, developing a commercial model and the accompanying business case.

I really hit it off with Michael, and more critically I respected the work that he had done and whole-heartedly bought into the plan. Michael continued to work with me in an advisory capacity for 6 months. We have a very similar approach, and a shared appreciation for the power of analysis and modelling.

I would relish the opportunity to work with Michael again, and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending him to others who have a need for consultancy services relating to business strategy and growth.

Nicola Platt, Head of Ecommerce


Build a strategic plan for the development of ecommerce and for maximising the opportunities of multi-channel trading.


The Original Factory Shop is a fast growing and successful value retail business with a chain of 174 stores right across the UK, with an ambition to have 500 stores by 2020. TOFS stores sell a very broad range of general merchandise, not all of which is available online. They began transacting online in April 2011 and growth had been impressive from a very small range of items.

The business recognised that ecommerce was immature and its role within a multi-channel retail environment was undefined.


The multi-channel strategic plan for the business was formulated following an initial analysis of the current position of ecommerce within the business.

One of the first tasks was to establish and define some standard KPI reports and ecommerce metrics. As a traditional retailer the business wasn’t fully focused on the traditional home-shopping metrics, as measures of the success of the ecommerce element of the business.

With an analysis of past performance within this new framework and additional insight from Google Analytics we were able to establish a solid and detailed picture of the current drivers of ecommerce performance and identify a number of real opportunities for growth. This initial analysis identified a number of areas that would drive significant growth and margin, and these would be addressed over the coming months.

After this initial analysis of current performance it was key to define the opportunities for ecommerce within the framework of a home-shopping rather than traditional retail business model. In addition, the business began to understand and gain insight into how multiple channels work together within the purchase journey.

The development of a multi-channel plan for the business examined and made recommendations on:

  • The proposition for ecommerce and home-shopping for the short, medium and long-term for TOFS
  • How the retail estate and the ecommerce channel would work in the context of home-delivery of items ordered in-store and the potential for click-and-collect of online orders
  • Improvements that needed to be made to the website user experience based on Google Analytics insight and in the light of ecommerce best practice
  • The suitability of the current ecommerce platform for the future development of ecommerce and options for the change of platform
  • The role of customer data, the need for a single customer view and to exploit CRM to maximise sales and customer lifetime value
  • Opportunities for customer acquisition and the relative merits of various channels in relation to the TOFS business model
  • The scale of the opportunity that was available through marketplaces such as Ebay and Amazon
  • Financial modelling showing the growth potential for multi-channel and the financial effects of conversion improvement, customer acquisition and the role of CRM in driving sales
With a greater understanding on the opportunities for ecommerce and multi-channel trading we embarked on a journey to grow ecommerce as part of a multi-channel strategy. This quickly resulted in:
  • The appointment of a search marketing agency following a competitive pitch
  • The choice of a new ecommerce platform and infrastructure partner following an exercise to define key requirements for the short and medium term
  • A switch of email marketing technology platform
  • The recruitment of a head of ecommerce
  • The opening up of marketplace discussions with Ebay and Amazon to drive significant additional volume
  • The commencement of a project to create a single customer view database for marketing

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