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IRUK Top500 INTERVIEW Sue Harries of Screwfix on mobile commerce

IRUK Top500 INTERVIEW Sue Harries of Screwfix on mobile commerce

Focusing on mobile retail is paying dividends for Screwfix . Sue Harries, director of ecommerce, tells Dominique Corlett why this channel works so well for its customer base and how the rest of the Kingfisher Group is learning from its experience.

If mobile is the future of ecommerce, then the Kingfisher Group has a handy secret weapon tucked into its tool belt. The trade and DIY supplies group which owns B&Q and Screwfix in the UK, and Castorama and Brico Depot in France, posted some impressive figures in its end-of-year results in March. Total sales for the year ending 31 January 2017 were £3.7bn, up 7.5% on the previous year, with pre-tax profits of £759m, up 48.2% on the previous year. But with sales down at B&Q and Castorama, and unchanged at Brico Depot, there’s no mistaking which of Kingfisher’s children is currently the sharpest tool in the box.

In recent years, trade counter business Screwfix has received massive investment in its mobile platform and the strategy is paying off. For the year ending 31 January 2017 it posted sales of £1.3bn, up 23.2% on the previous year. It also opened 60 new stores (in a period when B&Q closed 65), while click-and-collect sales rose 60% and sales on mobile devices grew by 124%. So pleased is Kingfisher with the Screwfix mobile platform that it is adapting it to be rolled out to the rest of the group.

“Mobile is our fastest-growing channel and it has been a huge driver of the growth in our click and collect business,” says Sue Harries, director of ecommerce at Screwfix. “More than 50% of visits to our sites are now from mobile phones.”

Dealing with a customer base of tradespeople who are often working on site with a mobile phones in their pockets, but far from access to a desktop computer, has given Screwfix a head start in mobile development, with the company aware for a long time of the importance of exploiting this channel.

Early adopters

“Our customers have been shopping with us on their mobile phones for over 20 years,” says Harries. “Initially it was through our contact centre and then on mobile internet. We introduced a truly mobile-optimised site in 2012 and since then we’ve continuously improved and developed the customer experience. Our customers are busy tradespeople, time is money to them. They require a service that is quick, easy, and enables them to get their jobs done right first time.”

So what exactly is it that Screwfix is offering and what does it enable customers to do? First off, its search engine allows customers quickly to find what they are looking for while working within the confines of a small screen. Simple dropdown menus keep things uncluttered and uncomplicated, offering browsing or search options and useful filters. Need a hammer? Choose by brand, product type, head weight, handle type, guarantee or price to take you straight to your list of options.

The platform also allows users to check if a product is in stock at a local store, and to click and collect. Click and collect is not only within the same day, but as of last year within one minute. Screwfix also offers free returns and next-day delivery, with its fastest service promising delivery by 10am for orders placed by 7pm the previous night. For customers within the M25 same-day delivery is available within as little as two hours.

“Thanks to the live stock-check system our customers no longer have wasted journeys,” says Harries. “They often search for the products they need when they are at their workplace, then make the trip to their nearest store to collect, safe in the knowledge that their products are there – 80% of our online orders are collected in store. As the majority of our stock is located in warehouses behind the 530 UK stores, our stock-check system is extremely accurate – if we say it’s in stock, it’s in stock.”

“To make things even easier, we also have the Screwfix app, which enables customers to view our catalogue on their phone, build lists and place orders quickly online or offline at a store using a barcode shown in the app – all designed to save valuable time.”

So far, so effective, but what of the future? The Screwfix ecommerce team is currently working with colleagues across the Kingfisher group to share their learnings ahead of the rollout of the new group mobile platform, coming first to B&Q, then to Castorama. And, according to Harries, they also have lots of ideas about how mobile can help staff with internal efficiencies.

And what about the 2.3m customers that visit its sites every week? Is there more that can be done to enhance their shopping experience?

“We are continuously working to improve the mobile experience for our customers,” says Harries. “We recently updated the Screwfix app to include integration with the Screwfix Card. We’ve worked hard to consider how our customers are using their mobiles and we’ve made sure to build simple journeys to make shopping with us more convenient. We have some further exciting updates planned for later this year. We’ve come a long way over the past five years and let’s just say we plan to do a lot more in the next five!”

This interview first appeared in the IRUK Top500 Mobile & Cross-channel Performance Dimension Report. To explore the IRUK and IREU Top500 series of reports further click here.

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