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How The Range uses Zendesk to support marketplace growth

A significant UK store footprint and a strong website weren’t enough for The Range, a couple of years ago it set up its own Amazon-like marketplace. The retailer describes how Zendesk has been essential to keeping track of its varied customer types and their complex queries.

The Range
“Zendesk completely changed the game when it comes to interacting with our customers.”

Stephen Blunt

Head of Customer Care at The Range

“I love that it’s on us, we don’t need to know how to code or to involve IT. It all works out-of-the-box and we can get on with it ourselves.”

Stephen Blunt

Head of Customer Care at The Range








Reduction in cost per ticket


Decrease in first reply time year-on-year

The Range

Offering shoppers choice in their communication

From garden furniture to craft supplies and decorating essentials, luxe bedding to technology and appliances–The Range truly has it all. Its customers are as varied as its product range, spanning all age brackets, shopping across the 35-year-old retailer’s 200 stores and extensive e-commerce website. So, offering a wide variety of customer contact options is essential.</p.

“They’re a mixed bunch; our customers don’t all want to live chat, some just want to get on the phone,” said Stephen Blunt, who began his career at The Range 12 years ago, starting out as a call handler and working his way up to Head of Customer Care managing 94 agents.

“We trialled doing only live chat for a week, but the reaction was awful and the customers who wanted to speak to someone started to ring the stores for answers,” he added, explaining how the retailer will never remove the customer care phone number from its website.

Instead, it’s about offering shoppers choice in their communication. The retailer receives around 1,500 enquiries a day, including through social media and Trustpilot – managed using Zendesk tools implemented at the height of the 2020 pandemic – as well as around 22,000 views of its Help Centre every month.

Prior to Zendesk, The Range was using email to reply to tickets, “someone could delete an email by accident and we couldn’t track particular topics. But the huge increase in enquiries during the 2020 lockdown gave us the business case to give our agents a solution which gave them more control. Zendesk completely changed the game when it comes to interacting with our customers.”

Indeed, ticket handling times have seen solid improvements, with the average first reply time decreasing by approximately 44% year-on-year.

The Range recently rolled out AnswerBot to bolster its communications by offering more ways for customers to get in touch, as well as maximising the newly revamped Help Centre. “While live chat is no more efficient than taking a call, we do get an instant thumbs up or thumbs down from it and we’re 90% positive every day. If you’re a new mum with a baby, you might not want to call, instead live chat would direct you to an answer on the Help Centre or raise a ticket.”

Marketplace game-changer

Towards the end of 2020, The Range launched its own marketplace initiative, with hundreds of third-party suppliers selling through The Range’s website–which has now expanded to around 35-40% of the business. “We’re quite a different company now,” notes Blunt, explaining how queries become complex when shoppers are buying products fulfilled by a third-party supplier.

“This is where Zendesk has really supported us, now we can create groups and when a ticket is raised and can get that enquiry straight over to the supplier,” he said, explaining how suppliers range from large-scale manufacturers to sole traders who sell candle melts from their spare bedrooms. Depending on the contract, suppliers either pass their response back to The Range to deal with the shopper or interact with the customer directly – either way, Blunt and his team have oversight to ensure the customer is being treated to the high standards set by The Range.

“We have brand pride,” he said. “And the quicker you get back, the happier they are – if you leave it too long, the original complaint becomes about the response time rather than the query.”

This communication oversight also means The Range can spot red flags from their traders – for instance, if a business has many tickets raised but doesn’t sell many items, there might be a problem that needs addressing.

“Without Zendesk, I don’t know how we’d be able to cope with the queries from marketplace orders as well.”


Using third-party software providers on the Zendesk platform is also front of mind for Blunt, after a positive experience using the Channel Reply app to address purchases of The Range products sold via eBay. “It connects Zendesk and eBay so that any queries that come through eBay can be read, answered and actioned through Zendesk. If a customer requests to cancel their order, we can cancel the item within the Zendesk ticket and refund the customer with a push of a button without logging into eBay.”

The focus this year is to use Flow Builder to map responses for common customer queries such as ‘where is my order?’ and push more customers through self-service. With the regular e-commerce side of the business and the marketplace having different Ts&Cs it’s important to use Flow Builder to quickly understand what type of customer is engaging with the brand to answer their query effectively.

“While we saw a 22% increase in contact over 2021/22, our response times got much quicker - but our customers’ self-serve rate is lower than elsewhere in the industry. We’ve already created the Help Centre, which saw a 59% increase in use year-on-year to January 2023. Now we’re excited to start promoting these articles to customers.”


“It’s a bit geeky, but you get excited about this; because with Zendesk there’s so much to learn from and you can see the benefits it brings for the team,” said Blunt, noting how The Range and Zendesk have built a personal relationship where account holders can organically bounce ideas between each other on their regular check-ins.

“I love that it’s on us, we don’t need to know how to code or to involve IT. It all works out-of-the-box and we can get on with it ourselves,” he added.

“There are so many elements to Zendesk, it’s hard to pick my favourite, but what I love is the amount of playing around we can do with it. I can just pick a search term and do a bit of research and I don’t need IT to create a report to start delving into a customer problem.”

As a relatively new customer, Blunt believes The Range is only currently using the “tip of the iceberg” that the Zendesk Suite has to offer, and with so much opportunity for the business on the horizon, Blunt can’t wait to get stuck in. “I’m excited and want to know more about what The Range and Zendesk can do together.”