Having focused its energies on developing the online side of the business alongside a cutting-edge collection, delivery and returns service, Halfords is now experiencing a virtuous circle that is seeing more footfall in its stores.
According to a trading update released in September 2018, the cycling, camping and car parts business saw its online sales grow by 11.3% in the 20-week period up to 17 August 2018, but 85% of products ordered online were picked up in the retailer’s stores.
This figure is no doubt helped by the fact that the retailer offers same-day collection for online orders – an option offered by around one in five IREU Top500 retailers. It also allows customers to check stock in stores in real time via its mobile app or website. If in stock, the product or part can be available for collection within an hour, assuring customers that they won’t have a wasted journey and providing another enticement for getting them through the door. Orders can also be paid for in its stores.
Getting customers into stores was boosting the service side of the business, said chief executive Graham Stapleton. Customers who bought car or bike parts, for example, might not know how to fit them. Once in a store, they can pay a small fee to have it done by a Halfords expert, also providing a learning opportunity for the customer. “In retail, sales growth was supported by fitting services,” Stapleton confirmed.
The group saw retail sales grow 2.6% and autocentre revenue go up 3.9% in the 20 weeks to 17 August 2018, with overall revenue for the group up 2.8% on a like-for-like basis, adjusted for store openings and closures.
The retailer has invested in getting its offering right by learning from the customer. It questions 10,000 customers a week in its ‘Give us a Steer’ survey, with the aim of developing a complete view of its customers and becoming better attuned to their needs.
The company has 454 Halfords stores and 20 Cycle Republic shops across the UK and Republic of Ireland, specialising in bikes, cycling products, car parts and accessories such as child seats, roof boxes and in-car technology. It also stocks camping equipment. It offers more than 70 in-store services including fitting car parts, child seats and in-car navigation and entertainment systems plus bike building and repair.