HR Owen to launch raft of new digital products

Dreamforce 2013: Luxury car dealer HR Owen is to enter the ecommerce arena for the first time, with an online store selling lifestyle accessories from brands such as Ferrari and Aston Martin.

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HR Owen to test ecommerce with launch of online store selling lifestyle accessories.

The store, which will sell goods such as teddy bears and other merchandise associated with luxury cars, has been developed using Ebay’s technology but will be skinned to look like the rest of HR Owen’s website.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Dreamforce in San Francisco, HR Owen marketing director Chris Harris said the move was “a toe in the water”, but if successful the company will expand the products the store offers to stock items such as car parts.

HR Owen will inform its customers of the launch, which is due later this month, by emailing them. Harris says HR Owen’s open rates are above 40 per cent and click through rates are in the “single digits to the early teens” but that these numbers can get even better with more personalisation.

The company has used the Salesforce Marketing Cloud to bring all its databases together to form a single customer view, which it hopes it can leverage in the coming months to send more personalised messages to customers. Harris says he is also hoping to use the data to provide an online service to customers where they can log on to check information such as the service history of their cars.

He says the next opportunity for HR Owen in 2014 is social, but he “views it with caution”.

Harris said: “Our demographic is guys in their late forties and they are lighter users of social. I have no great ambitions for Facebook to revolutionise our business, but we do have great content to put out there for our customers and Facebook has got a lot better at putting adverts in the context of the feed.

“LinkedIn is more of interest because of our customer base but I’m still fairly skeptical about social. The challenge with LinkedIn is most people use it as their digital Rolodex and I don’t think people are accessing their digital Rolodexes to have conversations about cars.”

Early next year HR Owen is to launch a digital version of its customer magazine on iTunes, available to both customers and non-customers as a free product, as it looks to raise awareness about the brand.

Harris said it is likely the magazine may encourage people outside of its usual customer audience, but that if 500 out of the potential 20,000 readers become leads, that will still be valuable for the brand.

He added: “If you ask our customers, most of them had a picture of a Ferrari on their bedroom wall when they were teenage boys [so it is important to speak to them too].

We need to get HR Owen to the stage when people say “I don’t know why I like them but I do” – the brand has to have value over and above the manufacturer[s well sell].”

The company is also building out a new page on its website dedicated to news and events, created on WordPress. Harris said the new section will allow the brand to develop a more personal and humorous tone of voice, which it hopes will help the brand highlight its “attention to detail”, service and core values such as “decency”.  

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