Stannah - Transforming the UK stairlift industry through digital
Stannah’s ambition to distil its traditional offline purchase journey into a 20-minute digital experience was made all the more urgent by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stannah is a world leader in commercial and domestic lifting products, including personal stairlifts. It’s one of the UK’s leading engineering companies and has been an independent family-run business since the 1860s.
Stannah now operates in more than 40 countries and has subsidiaries in 11 countries, including France, Italy and the USA.
Creating a digital platform that could recreate the personal experience of an in-person sales visit.
Stannah had a traditional sales process that has been central to its success for generations. And while its salespeople and the personal touch they bring will always be at the core of the business, customers increasingly demand an online option.
By offering the choice of a digital experience, Stannah aims to grow its user base and market share by appealing to an increasingly digital-savvy customer base, especially as they are often the generation below placing orders on behalf of loved ones. Digital also gives Stannah the ability to target regions that have been traditionally more difficult to service under its existing model.
An ambition to be the first stairlift provider to offer a full end-to-end online customer journey that ends with an order being placed via a digital platform was accelerated by the new demands of 2020; suddenly, sending salespeople into vulnerable customers’ homes became challenging and less desirable for both the customer and for Stannah.
But buying a stairlift is a complex process. Stannah approached Zone with the brief to solve this problem: how can you create a seamless, fast, customer-centric digital experience that is easy, enjoyable and empowering for customers to use while also ensuring that you have gathered enough technical information to provide an accurate quote?
And, furthermore, how can a digital product replicate the reassurance and humanity of a salesperson to customers in crisis?
A stairlift is a big-purchase item, and unlike most comparable cost purchases, it tends to provoke a negative mindset in customers. There is a huge emotional weight to buying a stairlift, because for most people it is an acknowledgment that they will never be any physically better than they are now. Stannah’s customers are dealing with a huge emotional upheaval, as well as the impact to their homes and the financial cost. Stannah wanted to normalise the purchase and emphasise the life-improving qualities of a stairlift by ensuring the online configuration experience is positive and empowering.
We conducted a four-week accelerator to diagnose the problem and build a testable prototype, identifying several areas of challenge:
- How to reassure and empower a relatively tech-naive customer segment about the robustness of the online experience without complicating or lengthening the journey
- How to communicate the idea of paying a deposit, which is necessary from a business perspective but can cause anxiety in a customer segment that often mistrusts interactions when they can’t talk to a person
- Building confidence in the approach and de-risking for an untested proposition
- Understanding Stannah’s technical landscape and data so we could proceed to delivery at pace
A 12-week sprint to design, build and launch an MVP that transforms the stairlift purchase journey from weeks to 20 minutes – and received its first sale within 82 minutes of launch.
To ensure the proposition would land and deliver maximum business value, Zone kept users at the heart of everything. We conducted frequent research and testing with real prospective customers, iterating on those learnings throughout the 12-week MVP sprint.
The overall look and feel of the product has been specially designed to support vulnerable customers to feel positive and empowered. Every element of the content, including language, tone of voice and visual design, has been tested with real users to ensure the proposition is clear and helpful to a diverse customer base. The journey has been designed to enable customers to find and purchase a stairlift tailored to their needs and home.
Customers are asked specific information about their home (the type of staircase and how many turns, for example), and can then choose from over 30 upholstery options, so their stairlift’s fabric, colour and trim perfectly complements their home décor. They can then select a timeframe for an appointment with a Stannah expert whenever is convenient for them and place an order with a 10% deposit.
The vision from the start has been to help Stannah take this product in-house by supporting the company to build its internal capabilities. To do this, Zone and Stannah worked closely together as a blended team. We helped them to evolve their brand to be digital first to support the success and accessibility standards for this type of experience. And by collaborating every day, we ensured that Stannah’s business needs were front of mind as we designed the solution.
As a consequence of our collaborative work, Stannah transformed several areas of its business, including streamlining its pricing model, changing how the company talks about its products, and evolving its approach to content to favour customer benefit over product features.
Before launch, we saw 25% as a target conversion – thinking that this was a realistic expectation for a relatively complex journey from a buyer’s perspective. However, we are now seeing an 55% conversion through the journey. This means we have more quotations in the market right now than ever before. This is where Zone’s approach came into its own – with a laser focus on the customer and our existing business during an intense discovery phase, and continuous customer testing and validation through launch that allowed us to be dynamic in the changes we could make.
- First online sale within 82 minutes of launch
- 50%+ month-on-month volume growth (during a period of lockdown that has seen offline growth stall)
- 79% of customers upgrading from the base model
- 71% of customers choosing one of Stannah’s new upholstery patterns or materials, vs just 12% in its offline channel
The team at Stannah are delighted with the results from the launch. We are currently working with them to prioritise a backlog of improvements for the UK product and also to build a US version in early 2021. Markets in Europe will follow.
On the day of launch we were nervously waiting for the concept that we had spent so long ideating, researching, designing and developing to prove itself. Having sold over 750,000 stairlifts across the world using the same offline sales channel for more than 40 years, to achieve just one sale online would have been a big deal for not just our business, but also our industry. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long, and the first sale came through just 82 minutes after our launch. Since then, we have seen a healthy growth in orders through the platform that not just proves the concept of an ‘online stairlift sale’ to Stannah but is becoming a fast-growing source of profitable growth.