As customers and retailers look across all touchpoints rather than siloed channels, so IR retailer reviews look at the entire retailer’s eco-system of website, mobile, the use of digital in store and their overall strategy. Longer in-depth analysis of the four areas can be viewed online at www.internetretailing.net. This issue our reviewers examine Debenhams.
RETAIL STRATEGY 25/25
James Taylor, Senior Consultant, Kurt Salmon
Debenhams is showing signs of recovery after a tough 2 years of trading; their retail stores are showing a competitive edge in both omnichannel retailing and value adding customer services. Debenhams stores have in-store offerings such as personal shopping, affiliates such as Regis hair salons and food services to create a one-stop shop experience in their department stores and the 2013 redesign of the flagship store demonstrates the potential of the brand. Their online capabilities have blended into the store environment through large dedicated Click & Collect areas, multiple in-store kiosks supporting payment and large visual advertising prompting the customer towards the online mobile friendly websites. The challenge for Debenhams will be targeting the loyal customer base and differentiating their services, brand and fulfilment options from their direct competitors.
WEB EFFECTIVENESS 16/25
Alan Blackwood, User Experience Consultant, User Vision
Debenhams is a good example of an efficient ecommerce site. While it does very little wrong, it also lacks significant innovation in any area. This may appear to be a criticism but in fact is very likely to be what most visitors to the site need and expect. While it also lacks some of the striking imagery and other visual design elements present on the John Lewis and M&S websites, if you’re motivated by discount offers and want a quick, painless user experience it’s likely that you will find both here.
Rob Thurner, Managing Partner, Burner Mobile
Overall, the mobile site feels “bitty” – different size and colour text boxes, inconsistent design theme running throughout. But the content is varied and engaging, and it’s dead easy to buy. Where most retailers fail in the check out, Debenhams delivers a great check out experience. Just a shame that the Debenhams app is unavailable. I look forward to reviewing the new version.
InternetRetailing asked Debenhams about the disappearance of its mobile app. A spokesperson responded: “Building our mobile offer is a key focus for Debenhams and sales from mobile channels make up an increasing proportion of our online sales. As part of our 2015 mobile strategy we have been working on optimising our mobile web presence for convenience and identifying the opportunities where we can use mobile to better serve our customers. We are currently working on a number of opportunities in the mobile space to ensure that our customers will have the best possible experience and enjoy the added value they deserve and expect. While we do this work, the apps are not available in the app store for new downloads but they will be re-listed when the improvements have been made.”
INTERNET RETAILING IN STORE 18/25
Reeta McGinn, Consulting Manager, Javelin Group
The ‘endless aisle’, the ability for customers to order from the full range via in-store kiosks has been a long standing (and very successful) pillar of Debenhams’ omnichannel strategy. Beyond the in-store kiosks however, the use of digital technology in-store is relatively limited. Product displays lacked interactive product information and the dynamic merchandising that other retailers are starting to implement, while mobile was noticeably missing from the experience. At the time of writing this review, the Debenhams app was unavailable from the App store despite being advertised on the website. The in-store WiFi was particularly weak and staff were also largely unaware about the app’s functionality. It will be interesting to see what the next iteration of mobile looks like for Debenhams and how they plan to integrate it into the store environment.