Expertise

We create with Hornby Hobbies

The Hornby Hobbies brand is synonymous with model railway enthusiasts across the UK. A strong historical legacy and commitment to quality makes them a favoured choice among hobbyists.

Partner since 2019

Our partnership:

For almost 5 years, we've stood as Hornby Hobbies' digital ally, extending strategic assistance to propel them towards their digital aspiration.

Our partnership serves as an excellent example of a synergistic collaboration. Together, we shape the alignment of our marketing and product strategies, ensuring they seamlessly integrate and partner with Hornby Hobbies internal teams contributing to growth within the digital landscape.

198.70 %
increase in purchases
993.5 %
ROAS
207 %
Increase in revenue

Hornby Hobbies site build, 2019

Consulting
Product design
Technology
Rebuild a bespoke and scalable platform that frees Hornby Hobbies from ongoing licensing fees and a rigid user experience that meets their unique online requirements.

Objectives

  • Cultivate a strong brand community through user education, fostering engagement, and ensuring a positive website experience.
  • Provide comprehensive support and guidance for customers at all levels, enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Develop a flexible, cost-effective platform to drive revenue, monitor, and continually improve without legacy system constraints.
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Digital strategy

During the Discovery process, the research led us to believe that the brands needed to be separated and prioritised. The data was distorted with sub-brands being tied up in Hornby.com, which meant internally, it was a struggle to validate decisions.

Our approach was to investigate the architecture from each site and analyse the most valuable content from a customer perspective. This was a balance of data and anecdotes from customers, which were extremely valuable.

Armed with this data and our eCommerce experience, we could map out an architecture that worked not only for Hornby Hobbies but also for all other brands with minimal compromise and development expense. The solution needed to be universal across the 12 brands, so we created a template that would work across each of them but branded  the visual aesthetic accordingly ensuring efficient updates and maintenance.

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Hornby-website-images-3

Creative

Having created an IA that can work across all brands, we developed a visual identity that did the same. We found a balance that would work across the multiple brands and allowed for variations to portray their unique edge.

Our first task was to ensure we were creating a scalable design system. The Hornby Hobbies portfolio currently stands at 12 brands, all with different look and feel, and more could be added at any time. That meant our layouts (and, more specifically, the navigation elements)  needed to work with potentially any colour scheme.

It was crucial to create enticing banner imagery that would look amazing on all devices. We worked hard to develop the perfect image size ratios for mobile, tablet, and desktop. We took this further and implemented options that would work for images with complex or plain backgrounds and even options where supporting text could be placed left or right to not obscure the product. All these options worked seamlessly within the various brands.

When a user moves from one brand to another, their experience is instantly one of refreshing familiarity. This ease of use continues through every page, with generous sizing of interactive items, clear navigation, and beautiful imagery.

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Hornby-website-images-1

Optimisation/UX

We flipped the User Experience by enabling the user to Shop by era and collection after discovering that most customers weren’t familiar with internal product branding.

The ‘Advice’ section was introduced to help build a community and support the active forums. With one of our biggest challenges for the brand being engaging new audiences, we wanted to create a community to enable people to get into the hobby with a Q&A for new customers and discussions for those most passionate.

Technical

We built a bespoke platform using Symfony and used a comprehensive CMS (Concrete5) to manage products, users and forums, with the ability to manage multiple sites across the 12 brands from one central location. 

We leveraged third party software Elasticsearch to provide fast response times on search and product listings for thousands of products and Braintree payment gateway to offer four different payment methods, card, PayPal, ApplePay and GooglePay, reducing the friction for purchases and helping drive repeat orders. Avalara was also implemented - a Tax API to handle complex US tax regulations.

As this is a high traffic website with unpredictable workloads, we needed to consider the best ways to ensure stability, resilience and uptimes with growth. With this in mind, we constructed both a horizontal scaling infrastructure utilising Amazon Fargate and a horizontal scaling database utilising Amazon Aurora MySQL 5.7 Serverless. This caters for the influx in traffic for both peak and non-peak periods as well as any particular application-level “behind the scenes” jobs that are run to ensure optimal performance during these times. As a side benefit during periods off-peak, it ensures we also maintain healthy low and accurate costs.

We’ve also micro serviced with private networking as much as possible to ensure the website only deals with website user traffic. This includes:

 

  • Elasticsearch - for search
  • Redis - for caching
  • Serverless Lambda functions - for image manipulation
  • Job servers - for running website based application requirements
  • Cloudfront - for quicker content delivery
  • Web Application Firewall - utilising custom rules as well as Fortinet
  • Real-time monitoring all in one place

 

With RTO and RPO extremely important, everything is wrapped up nicely using an “Infrastructure as Code'' platform called Terraform and Ansible, widely used by leaders in the financial sector, HSBC and Capital One.

Results

53 %

Increase in revenue
(In the first full month of trading after launch across Hornby, Scalextric, Airfix & Corgi)

123 %

Average increase in conversion rate

53 %

Increase in transactions

We worked with Rawnet to completely transform the digital offering across the group. Their process is brilliant - helping us define how to service our customers better and what technologies to use. The results since the launch have been impressive, and we are delighted with what we have achieved together. This is the first phase in a new digital roadmap for us, and we're excited for the roll-out to continue!

Dan Carter
Airfix Product Owner, Hornby Hobbies
Hornby-website-images-5

Hornby Hobbies: Corgi acquisition strategy, 2021

Customer Acquisition
Increase product demand for an already popular and iconic brand of collectibles.

Objectives

  • Leveraged paid social media on Facebook to boost ROAS and sales for Corgi.
Corgi_Image-2740x1848

Strategy

We aimed to use paid social media strategies to increase ROAS and increase sales through upselling and cross-selling. We also focused on making these already sought after products even more irresistible through similar product options and targeted landing pages encouraging hobbyists to purchase sets instead of individual products.

Results

993.5 %

ROAS

2.17 %

Conversion rate
Corgi_Image2-1340x1570
Corgi_Designs-Small

Hornby Hobbies product launch, 2022

Optimisation
Product design
Technical
Hornby Hobbies' product launch days are extremely popular as it allows customers and hobbyists to purchase new and limited edition products as well as reserve products for the current year. Traffic volume on the platform is an area that traditionally was a challenge for the website, so ensuring that the customer journey was seamless from start to finish was key to a successful launch.

Objectives

  • Using A/B testing and personalisation to increase the amount of purchases
  • Enhancing the UX to offer a more seamless experience
  • Increasing the scalability and security of the infrastructure to withstand an influx of site traffic.
Hornby Image-2740x1848-2

Optimisation

Our optimisation team found ways to increase the site’s conversion rates to allow data-informed up-selling and cross-selling through various tests. A/B testing was used to identify which style and layout of product card and product page CTA’s were most effective to make it easier for users to compare products as they browse, particularly on mobile. 

With the use of Dynamic Yield’s platform, we quickly delivered and tested personalised product recommendations to increase revenue generation. This was rolled out across a selection of the websites, which has helped to increase conversions.

Design

Our UX team then put the data from conversion optimisation into practice. The user experience is constantly being improved, but the journey to conversion has been signposted through product cards, social proof and targeted product recommendations.

The design and development teams added navigation improvements to allow the customer to access the products they were looking for easily. Improved creative and interactive blocks were added to engage the user further this included new product categories, carousel product recommendations and promotional banners to highlight the best selling products.

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Technical

It was critical to ensure that the 2022 launch was smoothly executed to generate as much revenue as possible. Many considerations included stability, speed, scalability, protecting the site against bots, and catering for significant traffic influxes.

To prepare for the launch, the DevOps team looked at available data to project and pre-empt the behaviour on the site and utilised tools such as Fargate, Elasticsearch & Redis. We knew the traffic average for the day would be three times higher than usual, and were able to check behaviour data and map a projection for the launch days. With this information, we understood what our base scale values should have been and what the potential the maximum would be, so the infrastructure would grow and shrink as require.

Hornby Hobbies US, 2022

Customer Acquisition
With Hornby Hobbies being an iconic British brand, it was time to expand their presence and increase sales in North America. This was a completely new region for Hornby Hobbies with any current sales outside of the UK coming from within Europe.

Objectives

  • Launch and optimise campaigns in North America to increase sales.

Strategy

Branded and product-based campaigns were launched on Google Ads using standard search and Performance Max shopping campaigns. These allowed for Google to use their AI-based campaign settings to automatically optimise where it saw sales increase.

Meta campaigns were also launched to target those on all Facebook and Instagram advertising platforms. Audiences were created from interests and previous engagement with the brand. Both platforms were monitored in real-time and optimised using A/B testing methods.

Results

198.70 %

increase in purchases through Google Ads
Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2023

165.49 %

increase in revenue through Google Ads
Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2023

Rawnet are an outstanding company to work with, operating more as an extension to our internal teams than as a separate agency. Friendly, creative and professional, the team is fully engaged in delivering for our business and genuinely seem to care about our outputs and results. I highly recommend Rawnet to anyone looking to grow their business at speed.

Dan Carter
Airfix Product Owner, Hornby Hobbies

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