To help the company maintain its culture and sense of unity at a time where it was growing incredibly fast, in August 2014, UK-based online appliances retailer AO Retail implemented a social intranet based on technology from Interact to provide a single, central channel for communications and information sharing.
Case study key facts
|Current goals||In late 2012, UK-based appliances retailer AO Retail was in the midst of a rapid expansion, both in terms of its staff headcount and its operations as a whole. Its evolution from a small business to a much larger firm drove the need for a more centralised, co-ordinated way of sharing information and connecting employees across the firm to take full advantage of its growing size. The company sought a technology platform that would provide a framework for supporting its continued growth, and that would also meet the collaborative needs of its young workforce.|
|Current approach||In August 2014, AO Retail launched its new social intranet, called “The Fridge”, rolling it out to all desk-based employees. With a core focus on news and sharing information, the platform also provides social collaboration capabilities to enable employees to comment on posts, take part in company-wide online discussions, and praise colleagues via a rewards feature.|
|Outcome||Eighteen months after launch, the intranet now plays a key role in supporting AO Retail’s growth strategy, providing a single channel for communications and creating a feedback channel for staff. With more than 2,700 visits to the intranet per day, around 68% of the employees who have access are active on the platform, for example commenting on and “liking” posts. As the intranet becomes increasingly important to the organisation, AO is shortly kicking off a redesign project which will incorporate user feedback to enhance the platform.|
|Tools and suppliers used||Interact|
Headquartered in Bolton, UK, AO Retail Ltd is an online retailer of major domestic appliances (MDA), operating its own website, AO.com, as well as providing online services and logistics for third party businesses. With annual revenues of £476.7 million in FY2015, AO has 4.5 million customers, accounting for around 13% of the total UK MDA market and 34% of the online UK MDA market.
Originally founded in 2001 as Appliances Online, the company has grown rapidly over the last five years as a result of its customer-centric approach, and its innovative use of video-based product reviews and its engaging and social web experience. To accelerate and support this growth and expansion, in 2009 AO acquired a small delivery firm, Expert Logistics, and in 2011 the company opened a new UK distribution centre in Crewe. This was followed in 2012 by the launch of a new customer service centre in Manchester. Following the company’s rebranding as AO.com in 2013, in February 2014 the company floated on the London Stock Exchange, raising £60 million to further fund its growth. Later the same year, AO introduced a new service selling TV and home entertainment products, and in October 2014 it launched in the German market, with AO.de. In November 2015, the company announced that it intends to open operations in the Netherlands later in 2016.
Today AO Retail employs approximately 2,000 people (compared to 420 in 2011), with the majority based in the UK.