Firebox develops customer data into real business driver

Originally founded by two university friends in 1998 as Hotbox.co.uk, the now thriving online retailer Firebox.com rebranded in 2000.

A unique online retail destination and purveyor of gifts with a twist, the Firebox product range offers original and exciting accessories, toys, games and gadgets from around the world.

Firebox eliminates the hours of fruitless searching involved in finding and buying the perfect gift with a hassle-free online shopping experience, focused on making the consumer’s life easier. With a number of value-adding functions including a Gift Finder, convenient delivery options and gift-wrapping service, Firebox.com offers market-leading customer service within the online retail sector.

The changing consumer profile
Originally Firebox attracted a largely young male audience. But in recent years this has broadened considerably and today its customer base is an even male/ female split. Typical Firebox customers are 25-45, online-savvy, financially secure, possibly with a young family and are relying on Firebox as a source of gift inspiration for their friends and family.

The Firebox database now consists of over 1 million customer records that have been collected over 12 years of trading. Its newsletter goes out to 650,000 recipients every two weeks, and the company’s printed catalogues and other print media have an annual circulation of over 7 million. “As the business has grown, so too has the understanding of our customer database, which is a dynamic, organic by-product of the acquisition work our marketing team does here at Firebox,” says Christian Robinson, managing director of Firebox.com.

“Over the years we’ve learned to manage our customers database like any other key business asset - we invest in it and we nurture it to generate the best possible ROI. I think the most striking change in the way we manage our database is that we’ve become much more ambitious regarding the business savings and efficiencies we can make,” he says.

The company’s outsourced data bureau, meta-morphix, has played an important role in helping to develop the database, make cost savings through not mailing goneaways, increase customer knowledge and subsequently helping to make good on Firebox’s environmental promises and CSR goals.

Matching customers across channels
One of the primary issues faced by any online retailer using printed mailings is to match online sales against offline marketing activity. With the help of meta-morphix, Firebox has implemented a number of systems to allow it to build a single customer view and understand how offline marketing drives online engagement.

“We currently employ a twin-track approach to our data asset management whereby we manage our primary customer database in-house for order fulfilment, customer communication and CRM. Alongside this, we work closely with meta-morphix who manage our postal mailing data and the collection and processing of customer data for our printed mailings,” says Robinson. Meta-morphix also works to segment and target the house file for mailings, post-campaign response and matchback analysis and with the cleansing and deduping of prospect data.

“Ultimately, the accuracy and security of our data asset is fundamental to the way we do business at Firebox - it’s not just about upholding our legal obligations and maximising our financial efficiency, it’s also about respecting our customers and communicating with them in a way that reflects our brand values,” he says.


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