Photo: The Hattons Team 2022
Entering the UK eCommerce Awards and being able to articulate the work we’ve done among our industry peers has been a really exciting process. To have been judged and shortlisted by an esteemed panel of industry experts is a real honour to be recognised in this way.
We’re Hattons Model Railways, a friendly and knowledgeable team serving customers across the globe, endearing hobbyists of all levels, from newcomers to industry experts.
Norman Hatton started from his small shop in Liverpool just after the second world war. Today, with a yearly turnover of over £16 million, we’re a leading independent retailer with tens of thousands of products available to purchase at any one time.
Our daily listings of pre-owned models are highly anticipated by our customers, who want the opportunity to secure something before someone else buys it, but not have to pay multiple postage fees each time they purchase.
Conversations with customers revealed their frustration at “being forced” to spend money every day on postage, as well as having to be at home to receive multiple parcels. We learned they would buy more and enjoy the process better if the postage issue could be overcome.
We’ve developed a service where our customers can pay for an item now, take it off sale and put it into a virtual ‘Trunk’, building their collection until they’re ready to ship everything and pay only one postage fee. Customers can now secure hot and rare pre-owned items as soon as they become available.
We’ve taken the Trunk service to another level having moved it from stand-alone virtual storage, to being part of our core operating model – optimising on how it can be used in all manner of customer scenarios – not just pre-owned listings. It’s been a massive success, has improved customer satisfaction and gives environmental benefits too.
Created entirely in-house, the software was developed by our own IT team and the roll out, marketing and customer adoption by key members of the team, so we haven’t had to go out and pay someone. This is typical of how we work at Hattons – utilising and recognising our own talent, then passing these savings onto our customers.
The Trunk service started as a solution to a barrier to sales, but has evolved to where it is today – used by our internal teams in the background to find solutions to customer issues. For example, if a customer forgets to add something to an order, we can put it in the Trunk and make the adjustments. This is regularly saving items being shipped across the globe only to be returned which can be costly to us, to the customer and of course the environment.
We run auctions every day via our Hattons Marketplace. When an item is won and paid for, it goes straight to the winner’s Trunk, so they can carry on bidding on other items, knowing they can ship them together when they are ready.
During lockdown, many people took-up the hobby for the first time, or returned to it after years away. Meanwhile, manufacturing – on reduced output – couldn’t keep up with demand, so stock was arriving over an extended period of time. The Trunk came into its own here as people could plan their layouts, order it to their Trunk, and ship it once it was complete.
What we’re doing is unique – we can’t see anyone else in our industry doing a similar thing or using a single tool at the heart of their business model to such a wide benefit, both to ourselves and to the customer. It sets us apart from the others.
Getting through to the finals of the UK eCommerce Awards makes us feel valued and recognised for the way we continue to evolve and innovate into the future.