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Weekly Winners in Retail

Weekly Winners in Retail – 17.08.20

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Amongst the further redundancies and store closures, there has been plenty of good news to shout about with retail sales up 3.2% in the four weeks from 5th July to the 1st August (Source BRC-KPMG). Although still not trading up overall year on year, this news gives us some hope. We also have seen some great wins for specific brands including Holland and Barrett, ASOS and Watches of Switzerland, who are the latest to feature in our weekly winners of retail.

Holland and Barrett launch store of the future, showcasing innovation and a customer first approach

When: 12th August

What’s the news?

Holland and Barrett have considered changing shopper needs, especially in light of Covid, as part of reopening a store in Essex. Changes include moving higher demand products to the front of the store, increasing customer space by 15%, allowing customers to click and collect products themselves, accessing via QR codes or barcodes, buzzers to alert sales assistants of customers needing help. In addition, video consultations are being offered to provide advice to customers who do not want to visit the store or isolating.

Holland & Barrett launch store of the future

Source: Essential Retail

What do we expect to see?

The approach that Holland and Barrett have taken is exactly what all high street retailers need to be taking. They have understood the challenges that Covid-19 has brought and adapted, creating a safer and easier way for their customers to shop in store. They have also acknowledged the fact that not all customers will want to return to buy instore, providing remote advice to retain existing customers and buy new customers. The brands that take this approach will be the ones who succeed over the next 12 to 18 months

ASOS Benefits from fewer returns as they are set to grow between 17% and 19% ahead of market expectations

When: 12th August

What’s the news?

With one of the highest returns rates in retail, fashion retailers often struggle to reduce the volume of returns. At ASOS it was predicted that product returns would be higher, however ASOS have benefited from returns rates reducing during lockdown. In addition, returns rates haven’t increased at the rate that they were expecting, giving a positive boost to trading. This is in part due to a change in buying behaviour for the ASOS customer, with a higher percentage of purchases of activewear and mascara especially in lockdown, which typically have a lower returns rate.

ASOS.com benefits from improved returns rates

Source: The Retail Bulletin

What do we expect to see?

What this shows all retailers is that your returns rate can have a seismic impact on how profitable your business is. With more people shopping online meaning less opportunity to see the product before you buy, coupled with in store changing rooms being closed, returns should be a big area of focus for retailers. This includes monitoring your competitors’ policies and adapting your returns proposition e.g. time to return, free vs paid, in order to optimise performance.

Understanding returns rate by product category is not only important to help predict your weekly trading profitability but can also shine a light on which areas of the business needs greater optimisation. For example, categories with higher than average returns could benefit from educational content about product sizes.

Watches of Switzerland adapts to Covid challenges resulting in positive trading

When: 13th August

What’s the news?

Although sales were down by 84.9% over the last 6 weeks of their financial year during Covid, Watches of Switzerland have still managed to post extremely positive trading results for the full year, with the groups EBITDA rising by 13.6% to £78.1m.

Source: Retail Gazette

Watches of Switzerland experiences a strong trading year

What do we expect to see?

Although the end of year trading results is not as strong as would have been hoped, the profit increase seen overall should be seen as a positive. Watches of Switzerland should recognise the need to re-invest this primarily into their ecommerce operation, providing more assistance for customers who are looking to now shop online rather than in-store. It is great to see how Watches of Switzerland’s Live Chat facility enables a Live Video Call with a specialist, however we would recommend that additional options are provided for customers who may not feel comfortable using this route.

Want to enhance your customer experience?

Our RetailEvaluator framework enables you to understand where you can improve your retail plan both today and in the future.

Alternatively, you can download our FREE Covid-19 retail strategy whitepaper, containing more than 110 practical recommendations, to help you navigate today’s current climate and plan for business growth.


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