Retail review: Rob Thurner - Mobile Score 16/25
Two months after the collapse of BHS and the closing of its last stores their new owner, the Qatari conglomerate Al Mana Group, has announced plans to resuscitate the business as an online only retailer. The news has been greeted with plenty of positive customer comment and interaction online. David Anderson will lead BHS, backed with a new online technology platform, and a plan to capitalize on the brand`s awareness and strong customer base of 1.2 million former online shoppers.
BHS.com launched its first women`s collection on 28th October, with dresses starting from £25. It also offers menswear, sleepwear, lighting, dining and Christmas goods, and is expanding its product offering on a bi-monthly basis.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS (3/5)
Page load time is pretty good, and the site is generally easy to navigate, providing a mostly effective and efficient customer journey.
The homepage welcomes customers with a 10% discount on all fashion products, prominently positioned between the key fashion looks from the new woman`s collection. Post purchase services - next day delivery, free shipping on orders over £50, a free 90 days return policy etc. are also clearly mentioned on the landing page – and in line with industry norms.
BHS is eager to encourage client feedback, with an accessible survey in click-on format introduced on the home page, along with links to social media Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Welcome message from ‘NEW BHS’ is an important touch, welcoming back loyal clients and assuring them that their favourite product ranges will soon be back online in the post Philip Green era.
Areas for improvement
SEARCH & NAVIGATION (3/5)
Good use of paid search promotes 30% and 20% discounts, taking me to the relevant landing pages. The social media links all direct to BHS sites quickly, as does the click to call link to customer service.
On site, product categories are accessible from the home page via a drop down hamburger menu, or searchable via a classic on-site search function. Within the scroll down menu the product categories within the women`s collection are shown with excellent quality product shots. Other categories for men`s, nightwear, lighting and bedding are introduced by their entry price points through clickable banners.
These jackets are available in black, but further clicks are required to confirm this – which will be an issue for clients expecting speed of service and ease of use and possibly lost sale for the company.
Products for the Christmas season are on offer, but are not shown on the landing page and are only accessible from the classic menu. Given that this is a short lived product BHS risks losing both immediate cash flow, and ending up with stock that is difficult to clear, due to poor navigation options to the product.
PRODUCTS & CATEGORIES (2/5)
There are four major product categories: Homeware, Lighting, Christmas and Fashion which are subdivided on the homepage into women`s, men`s and sleepwear, lighting ,bedroom etc.
At present the range is very limited, though the company is staying true to its reputation for offering value for money, with competitive price points throughout.
Womenswear is the strongest and widest range, with a focus on fashion led seasonal and transitional pieces. Product imagery high quality within this section, shot on a model in a studio, products are shown on the body, and clearly presented against a white background.
In contrast Menswear and Sleepwear have narrower ranges. Products from these sections are photographed in a still life format.
Areas for Improvement
Menswear and Womenswear sub-sections are only accessible via the homepage. Within the Fashion section this option is not available, and the stock is not always marked as menswear or womenswear. This creates the potential for customer confusion when shopping for items such as pyjamas or slippers (with the product not marked by gender, or flagged as unisex.)
This might lead to customer returns, and cause friction to currently fragile consumer relationships. A risk when BHS is trying to position itself as a reliable online shop and win back its previously loyal customer base.
Spotlight on Lighting
BHS always had a very good reputation for, and generated significant customer inflows from, their lighting department. Debenhams have hired the former lighting buying team from BHS to try and aggressively take this market share.
Given the strong BHS brand recognition within lighting it is very surprising that this product category is not more clearly emphasised on the landing page. Even with the currently limited product range within this section I would have expected lighting to be highlighted as a key area for the store.
PAYMENT & CHECKOUT PROCESS (5/5)
The payment and checkout process are smooth and efficient. The customer can choose to register, or proceed as a guest, and pay via credit/debit card or PayPal, all of which functions effectively.
AFFILIATE MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA (3/5)
The company offers a transparent and generous commission of 7% to its affiliate marketing partners (e.g. House of Fraser offers a maximum of 6%).
In terms of social media activity BHS is active on all large platforms. FB with nearly 130K likes is a very active communication channel with numerous open discussions. The FB and Twitter accounts are well managed by the BHS team, with clients receiving responses whenever relevant. There is a lot of visually rich and well-presented editorial content in categories such as: dining, Christmas, fashion and lighting - which only appear available on the social media accounts, e,g. Instagram but not on the website.
Areas for improvement
Better co-ordinating the company website with their social media presence should be a key priority for BHS. Both in terms of displayed content, but also as a market intelligence source. New product launches (coming regularly at the moment!) could be trailed in advance on Social Media, so that customers can sign-up for information updates and links to pre-order via the company website. This would provide a guaranteed increase in sales as well as great data for the merchandising and buying team (re customer purchasing patterns, replenishments, etc.)
More visuals and video content should be added to drive SEO performance.