Homebase latest DIY chain to play it safe with a click and collect app
Following a claimed 700% year-on-year increasing in stock check requests and browser hits from iPhones, Homebase has become the latest retailer to launched a free click and collect shopping app for iOS – but as retailers in other sectors gear up for a mobile Christmas, it could risk falling short of growing consumer expectations for mobile retailing.
Claiming that online sales through mobile have grown by “more than 600% in the past year”, Homebase is seeing the app as a key part of its multichannel strategy for 2011 and aims to tap into the 3million stock checks that customers are now making annually online and on mobile. The Homebase app includes some 30,000 browsable products that customers can use to check stock and reserve 20,000 products for in-store collection in all 330 UK Homebase stores. Products featured on the app are in 13 categories, including 158 ‘ecohome’ products, 159 Homebase ‘best buys’ and a temporary ‘Christmas’ category with 1496 festive products – all now accessible from Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices.
With customer reviews an increasing factor in driving online customer engagement, Homebase has added an additional feature for its app that allows users to organise search results by customer review score.
The app has been developed by the same in-house team that produced the million download app for Argos, a fellow Home Retail Group company.
The shared Home Retail Group app template has been reconfigured to work with Homebase systems, ensuring it is fully integrated with Reserve & Collect orders on Homebase.co.uk. This approach means that reserved products are guaranteed to be ready for collection within 3 hours – the fastest multi-channel shopping service in the UK DIY sector, says the company.
Homebase’s drive to become the UK’s leading multi-channel home enhancement and DIY retailer has led to a 33% year-on-year increase in unique visitors to Homebase.co.uk, it claims Having identified cross-channel sales as a key business strategy, Homebase is also proud to reveal customer research confirming 40% of Homebase customers go online to Homebase.co.uk before shopping in-store.
Harvey Bennett, Homebase head of multi-channel & planning, says that this approach has “led to Homebase online sales increasing more than 63% in 12 months”.
“Homebase hasn’t rushed into this space and as a result, we are proud to release an m-commerce solution that goes beyond a marketing tool to improve the DIY customer shopping experience,” he says. “We have developed the first stage of our mobile proposition to cater for the growth of website visits from on the go mobile users and future developments will look to continue to improve the cross-channel Homebase shopping experience for this emerging consumer base.”
That said, like fellow DIY store B&Q, the Homebase app – and now some months down the line the Argos app – falls rather short of what many other top tier retailers have managed to achieve with their apps and m-web offerings, often opting to go straight for transactional sites. DIY stores face some unique challenges in terms of delivery of some goods, but essentially this sector is lagging far behind the likes of Tesco Direct and other retailers in terms of the functionality and sophistication of their mobile presence.
And as consumers become ever more used to m-retail this Christmas, shortfalls in mobile offerings won’t cut the mustard. Homebase – like all DIY stores – faces its busiest time in the Spring, so it will be interesting to see how, in the next three months, the app and overall m-retail strategy at this and all other DIY and home care retailers adjusts as the results of the first mobile Christmas come to light.