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House of Fraser moves into multichannel

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Department store House of Fraser is responding to customer demand by launching new multichannel services. The retailer has set itself the target of generating 15% of its revenues from the internet within three years.

The retailer is to introduce a Buy and Collect service in September in response to a survey of more than 1,400 House of Fraser cardholders. More than half of those questioned said they would like to be able to order online but collect from a store.

House of Fraser will also pilot an Order in Store service in its London Westfield department store, allowing sales assistants to place orders online when customers want products that are unavailable in the shop.

Same-day delivery will be available to customers living inside the M25 area, while international deliveries will start later this year.

House of Fraser’s transactional website launched in September 2007 and was profitable by November 2009. By the end of this year it is expected to become the group’s biggest store, with online sales more than doubling each year.

Currently it sells 650 brands online, and 125,000 individual items but the figure is rising each week.

Robin Terrell, executive director for multichannel and international at House of Fraser, said: “It is clear from our survey that multichannel customer behaviour is now ubiquitous.

“We know that our multichannel customers spend twice as much with us than those who only shop in store so it is critical we respond to this in order for us to continue to meet our customers’ needs.

‘By introducing Buy and Collect and same day delivery, we are improving the convenience of shopping online. Order in-store raises the profile of the website and makes it more relevant to our customers, even when they are in our stores. With these initiatives, coupled with the continual improvements to the website itself, we are confident multi-channel will continue to be a key growth driver for our business.”

Our view: House of Fraser is finally joining the multichannel club with this announcement. It’s small wonder that these first steps to joined-up retailing are on their way – they are simply what’s needed as internet veteran Robin Terrell, who joined House of Fraser in February from multichannel leader John Lewis Direct and previously led Amazon UK, looks to catch up with rivals including Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. But to outperform in this area, much more will be required.

Robin Terrell was keynote speaker at the Internet Retailing Conference 2009. This year's keynote speakers are David Walmesley, director of e-commerce at DSGi and Dave Hughes, director at Marks & Spencer. The event is being held on October 12. Find out more here.

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