In business, everybody starts somewhere. Some start big, with a focus on volume and speed. Others start small, ambitious, and as they grow sustainably, discover more about themselves; their business and customers, and one day, achieve significant success.
Holland & Barrett is one such business - humble beginnings in Bishop’s Stortford in the UK bore the fruits of what has since become one of the most recognisable names in health and wellness around the world. A brick and mortar stalwart - between the Benelux and UK market, they operate roughly 1,000 stores. Specialising in wellness and nutrition, its ambitions in the coming years run the gamut into diagnostics and more.
Working with Adyen since 2015, the partnership began in Dutch market and has since grown into the UK and Ireland, and Belgium. The retailer–instantly recognisable if you’ve grown up in any of these regions – like many other traditional companies, was forced to diversify its digital offering because of COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for digitalisation were however already underway before the pandemic hit. They had earmarked a payments partner for collaboration with their global aspirations in mind, and that was Adyen.
In recent months, the company has undergone what many businesses supported by Adyen have, which was the migration from an old ecommerce solution, our Hosted Payment Pages (HPP), to our upgraded solution: checkout.
Our ambition as we say goodbye to HPP and replace it with Checkout, is that Checkout will support the future of business everywhere; that it will power growth and become a conversion driver. We discussed how it's done just that for Holland & Barrett with CTO Sathya Nandakumar, Matthew Humphries Senior Product Manager for Basket, Checkout and Payments, and Phill Howson Technical Programme Manager.
Moving from HPP to Checkout - a decision for the future
With a business ambition to reach 100M customers, the retailer made the decision to build its own proprietary platform to support its online business - one that will support an expansion into different wellness verticals in the future. The CTO notes:
“Everything has been built in-house, so we want to partner with people who can help us accelerate. Adyen as a financial technology platform was the right choice we made in terms of our online strategy.”
As we build the Adyen platform and make decisions about its future, we do so with the growth of our customers and the future of their business as our utmost priority. We build not only to protect and enable those businesses, but to drive them further and help them scale. So when in 2020 we decided to sunset a long-used and favored product in HPP, we did so confident in the knowledge that the replacement would be a far more impactful tool than its predecessor.
For many customers used to HPP, the migration initially appeared to be an obstacle. It would require resourcing, planning and a switch to an unfamiliar UI. But as with many software updates, the initial snag can prove a big eventual win. “It's modernisation, right? It's a very simple thing,” notes Sathya on the migration.
In terms of product, the move would allow for more visibility as to where customers are getting to in the payment process, or where they’re dropping off and even curb some of those drop offs. The new UI is a page native to the customer’s website, as opposed to the old hosted page that requires a redirect, and removes you from the brand experience. “A lot of companies focus on conversion rates, and that's definitely the right thing to do,” says Matt, whose team implemented many of the changes during the migration, “but also, where is that conversion dropping? Checkout is such an important part of that journey.”
“There was a clear roadmap from Adyen as well as a good developer experience. That was really important.”
The consequences of migration proved very positive for the retailer. In the Netherlands, after having migrated from HPP to Checkout, the billing progression rate increased by 4%. This is the percentage increase in successful checkouts after hitting the payment page. Simultaneously, the drop-off rate decreased by over 1.5%, confirming that customers feel more comfortable to continue with the payment when there are no redirects.
Checkout: the first step to global expansion
What we want Checkout to do is deliver a best-in-class customer experience; to power a payment that’s so seamless it feels simultaneously intuitive and trustworthy. There’s a lot in there that is different from HPP. The product has been built for the future of ecommerce, to support innovation and expansion across all industries. On Checkout as a step up from HPP, Phill, who oversaw the migration for Holland & Barrett notes that “the innovation is great because it allows us to innovate.”
“In terms of understanding what customers are actually doing throughout Checkout - having that data and analysis to be able to make the right decisions and the right priority calls, like a new payment method, is super important.”
A non-native tech company building a platform from scratch, with the goal of reaching millions of new customers, might find the proposition daunting. But with the right partners and help in place, expansion doesn’t have to be a hassle. “Less and less things are going to surprise us as we integrate different payment methods,” notes Phill. “We recently supported Google Pay and it was basically a fairly easy process. Whereas I think, in the past, we might have anticipated that would be a real headache.” Wallets, now nearly ubiquitous and in high demand at Checkout, aren’t supported by HPP, but are now live for the retailer following the migration.
Checkout in particular supports this acceleration, allowing the team to add new payment methods without any additional configurations, making it quick and easy to expand into new markets.
For traditional businesses, digitalisation doesn’t need to be daunting
“We are either digital or we are dead,” says Sathya, who upon joining in 2019, took on the digitisation project in its infancy. “There is no other way for a retailer or any other industry to think about their survival if they don't think about their digital strategy.”
“We are either digital or we are dead.”
With really extensive global expansion plans in the works, they needed a solution that would be quick and accessible for both those working on the product, and those interacting with it on the customer side. “We want to be the trusted health and wellness partner for 100 million customers worldwide,” says the CTO. “That's a huge ambition, and when an ambition of that scale comes into play, we want to own our IP. So, we want to partner with people who can help us accelerate, and Adyen as a financial technology platform was the right choice we made in terms of our online strategy.”
Ambitious digitalisation strategies and expansion plans are only supported by the latest in payments innovations, and at this juncture - that is Checkout. If you’re still processing via HPP, the end of the product’s lifecycle is near and it’s time to move.