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Debenhams sees improved online sales as it turns to mobile

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Department store Debenhams has seen a rise in ecommerce sales driven by mobile, which it has invested heavily in to deliver a state-of-the-art cross channel experience to customers.

Debenhams [IRDX RDEB] currently sees more than 50% of its online traffic coming from mobile and combining improved mobile experience with investment and restructuring around online and in store has seen online sales grow more than 9% year on year.

The department store – a leading retailer in the IRUK Top500 research, says online has become more profitable as more customers use it and opt for premium delivery options. Ecommerce earnings before interest, tax and asset depreciation are 14% ahead of last year.

A key part of the turnaround has been the alignment of the UK and Irish stores and online operations into a single structure under the leadership of Ross Clemmow as Retail Director. This is designed to deliver a seamless shopping experience across the customer-facing UK and Irish businesses, says the company.

Debenhams has seen a sustained investment in IT and systems to develop a flexible and robust infrastructure supporting the growth of the online channel and the increasing demand from customers – wherever they are in the world – to shop across channels

The investment has been made in improving Debenhams multi-channel proposition and specifically mobile first development, has driven further progress in online, with overall online sales growth of 9.3%. As the service improvement is more widely recognised by customers and the uptake of premium delivery options increases, the profitability of the online channel has increased, reflected in the 14.0% improvement in online EBITDA.

“We believe we are amongst the market leaders in mobile development and mobile now accounts for over 50% of online orders, with over half the traffic to our website driven by smartphones, and improved brand projection and a simpler checkout process driving 22% improvement in smartphone conversion rates,” says Sir Ian Cheshire, Chairman of Debenhams.

“We are using mobile technology to connect customers and colleagues to provide a faster response to our customers’ needs,” Cheshire went on. “For example, we will offer contactless payment at till points in around half our stores and ‘Queue Buster’ mobile payment points for our busiest departments in key stores at Peak.

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