After the Christmas period, sales are always challenging. However, all retailers, from Bonmarche to Burberry, seem to have started to follow some new trends. And, perhaps not surprisingly, they are paying off.
The Christmas period is always a challenging time for retailers, as people find themselves having to tighten their belts. However, rather than simply expecting this, retailers, ranging from Blueberry to Bonmarche, have used some key trends and themes to change their multichannel strategies. Let’s take a look!
Online growth has been experienced across all retailers. Halfords, for instance, reported a 16.3% year on year growth in online sales, well above its target. Pets at Home, meanwhile, saw a 4.4% rise in total sales, much of which was driven by its online strategies. Meanwhile, N Brown Group have only just gone online, and instantly noted that 70% of their sales came from this channel. Other stores all reported huge growth. All of these companies aim to deliver what their customers actually want.
Bonmarche, meanwhile, has finally started to come back from its slump. In September 2016, they had to release a profit warning after its profits dropped by 50%, wiping 30% of its share value. However, with a new CEO at the company’s helm, who has instantly made improvements to the store’s online offerings in particular, the company is meeting its growth forecast and once again looking at stronger figures. While their sales are still lower than they would like, their online sales are up tremendously.
Meanwhile, Brexit has also had an impact on the retail sector. With the dropping value of the Sterling, many foreign customers are buying high end brands such as Burberry. The Brexit effect is even noticed in high street stores, who have seen an increase in shoppers both from international markets and domestic “staycationers”.
Another key factor is that people now want to utilize different payment methods, using mobile technology to shop for what they want. N Brown Group, for instance, said that49% of all their online traffic came from mobile devices, and their conversion rate from mobile visitor to shopper increased by 7% since last year.
There have been some interesting international developments as well, particularly for stores who already did or now do operate on international markets. Both Burberry (who also operate in China) and N Brown Group (who also operate in the USA), has seen there are new opportunities in terms of growing the market.
Black Friday had a huge impact on the world of retail. Uniquely, Bonmarche decided not to take on Black Friday, however, nor did they participate in any kind of ‘Cyber Fortnigh’. A representative from the company says: “We had too many changes to deal with already. Whether we take part in it this year remains to be seen, but we feel that we made the right decision.”
Meanwhile, there have been some significant strategic developments as well, perhaps nowhere more so than with Bonmarche. With a new CEO, Helen Connolly, at its helm, the company has made some significant strategic changes. This includes:
- Merging departments so that they can better work in unity.
- Ending the offering of menswear, both in store and online.
- Changing the persona of the customer demographics.
- Expanding the supply chain to include the Indian, Moroccan, and Turkish market, thereby moving away from China.
With these changes, Bonmarche seems to have turned around from its slump last year, as many other companies have done. Interesting times are ahead, particularly in a society that is becoming increasingly digital.