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Halfords: focusing on the lifetime customer relationship

An increase in ‘do-it-for-me’ customers has been very profitable

An increase in ‘do-it-for-me’ customers has been very profitable

Halfords is working to build long-term relationships with its customers. The automotive and cycling equipment retailer, which also runs a chain of auto centres, unveiled in September a new customer strategy to focus on “supporting and inspiring a lifetime of motoring and cycling.”

At the time, its chief executive Graham Stapleton said this was about ensuring it stayed relevant to its shoppers through a focus on a “super specialist shopping experience”, supported with a convenient range of services.

“Customer behaviours and the competitive environment are changing and we face an increasing number of headwinds,” he added. “Our new long-term strategy means we will become far more focussed on the categories we are best known for – motoring and cycling.

“We will have a more convenient, easy to shop and scaled services business, offering a thousand service locations. Customers will also benefit from unique product, services and shopping experiences, all underpinned by integrating the separate businesses within the group. We have an exciting future ahead and I am confident that we will become even more relevant to motoring and cycling customers in the future.”

In its stores, Halfords has focused on customer service, and has trained more than 70% of eligible staff to its own internal ‘gear 2’ level. Services offered include fitting car parts: in full-year results, to March 2018, the retailer said that 42% of the bulbs, batteries and windscreen wiper blades that it sold had been fitted to the customer’s car by staff. “This,” noted the report, “illustrates the increasing relevance of our services proposition to the growing number of ‘do-it-for-me’ customers.

Overall, service-related income, including the cost of the item bought and the fee charged for fitting it, rose by 14.2% over the year. This helped to grow overall retail sales by 6% during the year. Halfords fitting and repair services, along with its very popular click and collect, have played a significant part in that growth.

During the year, around 85% of orders placed via were picked up in store. “This high proportion,” said Halfords’ full-year statement, “continues to differentiate us from other retailers. Instead of cannibalising our bricks and mortar operation, online sales have driven store footfall. Both our online and store sales were in growth for the year.”

The retailer has worked to gain insight into its customers’ needs by understanding their shopping behaviour. Behind this has been a project to introduce a single view of the customer. In full-year results, it said it was able to match 59% of retail customers to the transactions they have made.

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