Shop Direct has stellar shopping experiences in the bag

Delivering an award-winning, personalised experience to keep customers coming back

Shop Direct has transformed from a traditional catalogue business into one of the UK’s leading digital retailers, with annual sales reaching nearly £1.9 billion. To spur its commercial success, the company places emphasis on crafting a winning customer experience.

Neil Chandler, CEO of Financial Services at Shop Direct, takes up the story: “We aim to provide our customers with a world-class shopping experience, whatever their interests and fashion style. In practice, this means that we need to think carefully about all aspects of the customer experience, so that when shoppers interact with us – by opening an email or text, or by visiting our website – they see content that is interesting and relevant to them.”

Over almost four years of working with SAS, they have consistently challenged us and guided us to unlock the power of our data. Neil Chandler CEO of Financial Services, Shop Direct

Harnessing powerful analytics

To deepen its understanding of each shopper’s preferences and style, Shop Direct examines customer data using powerful analytics from SAS. For several years, the company has relied on SAS® Enterprise Miner and SAS Visual Analytics for powerful predictive-modelling and data-visualisation capabilities.

“Here at Shop Direct, we always seek to work with the most forward-thinking partners, and SAS definitely fits the bill,” remarks Neil Chandler. “Over almost four years of working with SAS, they have consistently challenged us and guided us to unlock the power of our data. When we have questions or encounter difficulties, SAS acts quickly to help.”

Gaining bags of customer insight

The SAS solutions enable Shop Direct to gather, store and comb through massive quantities of granular customer data within very short timescales, helping to pinpoint the products most likely to be relevant to each individual customer.

“If customers choose to share their data with us, they expect us to use it to personalise their experience,” continues Neil Chandler. “For example, if they inform us about a fashion preference, we have the capability to prioritise search results for that particular customer so that the first items they see are the ones they are most likely to purchase.“

“It’s not just about showing relevant products and promotions to our customers – we want to make sure they arrive at the right time and via the right channel. Some customers like to shop on their tablets, some respond best to in-app messages, whereas others prefer emails.

“SAS provides a strong modelling environment for us to test and learn how customers respond to the personalised experience we offer them, helping us on our journey of continuous improvement.”

Shop Direct’s efforts have paid off, and the company has bagged a number of retail awards. In particular, Shop Direct won last year’s technology award from the prestigious Retail Week publication.

Building on its capabilities, Shop Direct is using SAS Contextual Analysis to analyse customer’s verbatim feedback to understand Net Promoter Score and to spot areas for improvement in its business. Additionally, the company is taking advantage of SAS analytics to reduce churn.

“We are using SAS to identify cases where we think we need to work on the customer relationship,” explains Neil Chandler. “That could be when customers start to shop a little less with us, or when they don’t respond as well as we had hoped to an offer. We have built a series of models to detect this type of behaviour, and work out what went wrong. For example, perhaps the promotion was great, but it came at the wrong time. Equipped with those insights, we can take targeted action to strengthen our relationship and entice customers back.”

In the financial services part of its business, Shop Direct employs SAS technology to analyse credit risk. To manage the suite of analytical models in place across the organisation, Shop Direct relies on SAS solutions, which reveal which models draw the most accurate predictions and which require refining.

Neil Chandler concludes: “Over the last few years, we have been on a phenomenal journey, and SAS has helped us make great strides towards our goal of becoming a world-class digital retailer. In the fast-paced retail market, SAS plays a crucial role in helping Shop Direct stay at the forefront of technological and customer-driven change.”

Shop Direct logo


Striving to become a worldclass digital retailer, Shop Direct aims to create a superb shopping experience for its customers through personalisation.


SAS® Enterprise Miner
SAS® Visual Analytics


  • Paints a detailed picture of each customer, enabling personalisation of promotions and more
  • Pinpoints customers who are about to stop shopping, so that the company can give them personalised offers
  • Bags Shop Direct a technology award from the high-profile Retail Week publication
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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