Halfords’ [IRDX RHAL] stores play a significant role in its ecommerce customer service, reflecting a strategy of developing sales channels that complement, rather than compete with, each other. The effect of this strategy is reflected in the fact that 85% of orders placed via Halfords.com were picked up in-store during its most recent financial year. Click-and-collect orders are free to collect in store and are often available within an hour of the online order being placed, making that a very immediate solution for shoppers with pressing needs. Delivery is next-day as standard for orders placed by 8pm and is free to those spending £40 or more. It costs £3.99 for orders under that threshold.
Halfords set out the importance of stores to its multichannel approach in its full-year results, to March 31 2017. “The importance of our store network and service overlay continued to be highlighted by the strength of click and collect, with around 85% of Halfords Retail online orders picked up in store,” it said.
“This high proportion of click and collect continues to differentiate us from other retailers, as our online business, instead of cannibalising our bricks and mortar operation, drives footfall into our stores, with over 80% of customers wanting advice or fitting service with their purchase.” The figures showed ecommerce sales growing by 30.5%, or 6.3% on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of Halfords’ acquisition of online cycle stores Tredz and Wheelies. Overall, its revenue grew by 7.2%, including 8% growth from retail sales, although underlying pre-tax profits, before one-off costs of £75.4m, were down by 7.5% compared to the previous year.
Halfords has focused on in-store services as a way of attracting shoppers to the store, alongside click and collect. It offers more than 30 such services, from fitting car and motorbike accessories to small repairs and assembling cycles. Retail sales related to services rose by 11.1% during the year.
Halfords’ then chief executive Jill McDonald, who left the company at the end of September
to join M&S [IRDX RMAS], pointed, in its annual results, to the importance of such services to the group’s overall strategy. “We have made great progress with our Moving Up a Gear strategy, with increased customer insight and sustained growth in service-related sales being particular highlights,” she said.
With its focus on bringing online shoppers into the store, Halfords seems to have found some interesting solutions that work for both its customers as well as for its business.