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Lakeland to offer new multichannel services

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Homewares retailer Lakeland is set to introduce new multichannel services linking its store and online channels.

The company is also developing a mobile version of the website, optimising a segment of the existing website for viewing on mobile devices. It soon to introduce buy or reserve online, collect in store, while it will also start experimenting with the use of QR codes, allowing in-store shoppers to download online product demonstrations.

Tony Preedy, marketing director at Lakeland, revealed the new developments at this week’s Internet Retailing 2011 conference for online and multichannel retailers. He said the use of QR codes would satisfy customer interest. “People are interested in finding out about our products and it’s a relatively cheap way to give them more information,” he said.

The new developments follow the launch of a new-look Lakeland webite earlier this year, where features include product reviews and more than 500 demonstration videos.

All of this was part of answering the need, said Preedy, for websites to improve the way they sell to customers. Web traders had benefitted from the trend to buy online, without necessarily understanding how to sell online – but that had to change now that times were harder.

“In our stores we’re very effective at selling,” he said. “We need to take that knowledge and apply it to our websites too.” Thus, he said, it was necessary to take what works well offline and apply it to the store.

Just as might be possible in a store, the online trader had to know the customer well. “One day we will get to the stage where actually the website is so attuned to what you’re doing that it is ultimately a one-to-one experience,” said Preedy.

Lakeland was among a wide range of retailers and suppliers speaking at the event.

Elsewhere, Richard Weaver of Majestic Wine explained how he had introduced social media into the wine merchant’s local stores. He linked the use of Facebook, Twitter and local blog content featuring in-store events and local information to a 35% increase in store page web views, with the average time spent on the pages doubling to two minutes. However, he said, if he were to repeat the exercise, he would not introduce social media in November, though it had proved useful for delivery updates during last winter’s snowy weather.

Amy Bastow of the The Phone House explained how the retailer’s cross-European ecommerce platform had been developed, while Chris Poad, of Amazon, and Ulric Jerome, of Pixmania considered key issues retailers needed to consider when expanding in Europe, from regulations, to language, to fulfillment – and, for Jerome, the importance of having in-house translators.

Hash Ladha of Aurora Fashions considered how the group, owner of brands including Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse, was moving to offer faster deliveries through the Shutl service, while Alison Lancaster of White Stuff considered how making the customer happier – through measures such as serving tea in stores – helped it to compete across channels.

Other speakers at the event included Kamarulzaman Ahmad of AirAsia Berhad, and Susan Deer of Debenhams.

The keynote speakers were Miriam Lahage of eBay, Mark Hodgkinson of HMV, and Gavin Sathianathan of Facebook.

Videos of key presentations from Internet Retailing 2011 will soon be available to view on this website, while you can also read our conference previews on the site by searching for ‘annual conference Internet Retailing 2011’.

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