Watches of Switzerland this week said it had transformed over the last five years into a multichannel customer-centric business. The luxury watch and jewellery business, operated by Jewel UK Midco, this week reported its first full-year results since it floated on the London Stock Exchange in June, showing a 22.5% rise in group revenues to £773.5m in the year to April 28, a 10% rise in UK like-for-like sales, and pre-tax profits 180% ahead at £20.1m.
Chief executive Brian Duffy said he was “delighted that the group’s five-year transformation has cultivated in a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange this year”. He added: “We are the UK’s leading luxury watch retailer, hold a growing position in the US market, and operate in a highly attractive market in which demand for luxury watches generally outstrips supply. We are well-positioned to deliver on our strategy and look forward to achieving continued growth in the year ahead.”
The business now sells online through five transactional websites and through 128 stores in the UK (107) and US (21). Its brands include Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths, and, in the US, Mayors. It also operates single-brand stores for Breitling, Rolex, Tag Heuer and Omega. Given that the retailer says it takes a customer-centric approach to selling, here are four examples of how that works in practice.
Watches of Switzerland has developed its merchandising capabilities into “a customer-focused driver of product availability and access” as part of its business transformation. “Through our merchandising team, merchandising tools and long-term relationships with brand partners, we seek to ensure that our inventory is current with appropriate inventory depth.”
Its merchandising is built, in turn, on customer-centric analytics, run on SAP software, which focus on showroom profiling, productivity, trend analysis, season change and forecast sales and inventory in order to make sure that the product ranges on offer meet customer demand.
The retailer engages with shoppers through a customer relationship management (CRM) database that includes more than 4.8m people, including more than 3m contactable cliets. This is used for targeted marketing, direct mail, and analysis of its customer demographic. The retailer also engages with its customers through luxury watch magazine Calibre, both in print and online, and in the UK only, through Loop.
It takes a content-first approach to social media, engaging with an audience of more than 340,000 via channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Global Display Network.
“Every customer,” said Watches of Switzerland in its full-year statement, “is treated as a potential loyal client for life by our retail professionals.” In order to achieve that it provides a luxury environment and trains staff both in the brands that they sell, and how they sell to shoppers, “to allow our staff to provide customers with an unrivalled in-store experience.” It also uses insights from CRM to run a range of events tailored to customers’ needs; in its last financial year it ran more than 120 events in the UK.
Convenient multichannel shopping
Ecommerce revenue was up by 18% compared to the previous year, after 12 months in which the retailer said it was “continually pushing the boundaries of multichannel digital marketing.” It said: “We embrace and drive forward our capabilities, leveraging rapidly evolving artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies to optimise search engine optimisation.”
It also improved its customer service online through features including live video and text support, both before and after sales. Cut-off times to order for next-day delivery moved to 9pm, while packaging was made more luxurious.
Screenshot of Watches-of-Switzerland.co.uk/InternetRetailing Media