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Halfords online growth driven by mobile penetration and increased conversion

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Online sales over Christmas motored along nicely for Halfords, driven by growing mobile traffic and increased mobile conversion.

Over the 15 weeks t 12 January, Halfords online sales grew by 13%, with 60% of traffic now coming from mobile. More than 80% of orders collected in-store, reinforcing Halfords’ service led nature.

The mobile-led success over the festive period – which saw the retailer outperform the non-food retail sector according to BRC data – is down to Halfords moving last year to an agile web development process, enabling the retailer to make changes more frequently and enhancing the site with improvements such as ‘guided selling’, particularly helpful when choosing a kids’ bike, ‘frequently bought together’ additions and navigation improvements.

Matt Gratze, Digital Director at Halfords, explains: “There are three main elements that have helped us to improve conversion on mobile devices. Our agile web development process, combined with a continuous improvement methodology, has meant we have been able to make improvements and optimisations more regularly to the Mobile site. We have focused heavily on reducing the page load time on mobile and made this one of our pre-peak priorities resulting in a direct impact on site conversion and an improvement in site speed. We have also seen a number of our digital improvement programmes pay off. We identified a number of projects that we wanted to initiate that would lead to improvement across all our devices, not just mobile”

He continues: “For example, we have improved our search tool with the results continuously refined in real time. We have implemented ‘social proofing’ with our partner Qubit, which allows customers to see, for example, how many people are looking at a product in that moment, and we have also implemented cross-sell product recommendations powered by our single customer view database that also includes products bought in store which meant that the data pool was very large and provided more accurate recommendations.”

Group revenue was up overall by +3.2% in the period (+3.6% year to date) and Black Friday best sellers included the Carrera Hellcat mountain bike, the Pendleton Somerby electric bike and workshop socket sets.

Christmas best sellers included dash cams and kids ride-on toys. Sales of dash cams exceeded sat navs for the first time, while more than 250,000 kids unwrapped a bike from Halfords on Christmas day.

Continued growth in service-related sales of +8.6%, driven by bulb, blade, battery and dash cam fittings and cycle repair continue to aid the business.

Commenting on the results, Chief Financial Officer, Jonny Mason says: “We are pleased with the overall performance of the Group in the 15 week period given the difficult UK retail environment. We achieved record sales for Black Friday and Christmas thanks to great planning and execution and compelling product and service offers. Particular highlights included the growth in fitting services for car parts, cycle repair and increased sales of bikes, electric bikes and dash cams.”

With new CEO Graham Stapleton, who joined Halfords on the 15th January, adding: “Halfords is a business with a 125 year heritage and a market leading brand that resonates with both myself and the UK public and I am delighted to have joined the company this week. I am really looking forward to working with my new colleagues to continue to implement the service-led strategy and over time identify further growth potential.”

• IMAGE Halfords

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