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Retail review: Website

Pete Brown, Consultant, Kurt Salmon

BHS is hoping for a comeback as a new pureplay online retailer. This is a highly competitive market and it is entering at a time when department stores are in a decline in the UK, which could prove a bold step.

Other successful department stores in the UK tend to have a luxury focus that is cemented with a strong store presence. Without this it will be interesting to see how well the new BHS can position itself in the market. With Selfridges showing a 1.9% dip in operating profit after investing £300m in their flagship Oxford Street store, it’s a brave move to act as a standalone in the pureplay market.

The new BHS has launched its website in an agile way, starting with lighting and homeware and pushing towards the fashion markets. The aim is to launch 80% of the old BHS product offering, an ambitious target.

The website is clear and well laid out. It has moved to a much more user-friendly platform than previously. The simplistic and modern approach is completely different and supports a strategy to attract a younger consumer.

With this in mind, it seems in a hurry to differentiate from before and is aiming to launch its new fashion focus to a more trend-minded consumer. The sales process is integrated with multiple opportunities to provide real-time feedback through reviews and sharing opportunities via social media. In order to stay ahead of the digital curve in a market super-saturated with online retailers, it is vital that BHS keeps listening to its customers to avoid the pitfalls of other department stores. The key method of choice it uses to communicate is Twitter. This offers a more efficient line to resolve issues for younger customers.

It is very early days for the new pureplay BHS so it will be interesting to see in the coming months where the next steps take the business but for now it looks to have positioned itself in a much better place to move forward.

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