Bringing digital to our stores

  • kate callaghan
  • Ayub Bush
  • Jordan Lewis
  • Cj Fletcher

At the start of October 2018 all of our Furniture & Electrical (F&E) stores went live on Flow! What’s ‘Flow’ I hear you ask? Let me tell you about this exciting British Heart Foundation innovation… Flow is a digital based platform that allows our F&E colleagues to respond to customers quicker and more effectively when they submit an online request for us to collect donations from their home. Before Flow, our shops were inundated with emails and calls to arrange collections. It was great that so many people wanted to make donations, but the logistics could be challenging.

Our Retail and Digital teams have a great relationship thanks to constant two-way communication. From members of the Digital Team spending time in our stores or Retail HQ in Northampton, or our Retail colleagues joining us in London for meetings or show & tells, we make a concerted effort to remain co-ordinated (plus it helps that we can have a laugh together).
Our Retail colleagues told us about the issue the F&E stores were having and we’d observed it ourselves, so we took this as a challenge to find a better way of handling collection requests.
In true agile fashion, we decided to start small, and built a platform with basic but effective functionality for a small selection of ‘early adopter’ shops. Our F&E colleagues are so incredibly busy – arranging collections, sorting donations, organising displays, serving customers – so it was key that the system we designed was easy to adopt and a breeze to use.
Flow initially looks like a clean and glossy dashboard, displaying the amount of outstanding and accepted requests. By clicking into different elements of the dashboard, you can review, edit and organise requests. Think of it as the ‘mission control’ of furniture collections!
The accessibility of the platform has been a glowing part of the feedback ever since the trial launched. The fact it is so user-friendly has given us ample opportunity to incrementally add and improve functionality, but we’re also able to do this because it is 100% BHF built and maintained. We’re really proud that it’s a BHF original and is living evidence of the amazing talent we have in the Digital Team #wellingup.
From the start of the trial to the decision for a full roll-out, Flow is really revolutionising and streamlining the way in which we support our customers wanting to donate items to us.
Our F&E estate are now using the system and providing great feedback to their Managers. The Digital Team are now working on the house clearance area of the system, in order to form an all-in-one service.
We’re not just stopping there! We’re continuing to trial new ways of reaching new donors and improving their experience.