Halfords, the car parts, camping and cycles retailer, has illustrated the importance of stores to its business in the past year, while also showing how sales channels can complement rather than compete.
Online sales are growing fastest at the retailer, but 85% of online orders are still picked up in the store, where its services offer is growing.
Jonny Mason, chief financial officer and interim chief executive, said recently: “We have delivered more improvements for our customers, with new services for motorists and cyclists, provided by trained, friendly, expert colleagues, and new ranges of great products.”
What’s helping Halfords? Identifying customers, for one. The retailer is developing a single view of its customer transaction, and said that during the most recently reported half year it matched 54% of retail transactions to the customer who made them. That’s up dramatically from 3% two years ago. Across the group, which includes autocentre sales alongside retail sales, the match rate came in at 67%. Halfords said its tools in achieving this included eReceipts, tokenisation and improved data matching across 21 different data sources within the group. Over the two years it collected 6.5m email addresses in retail stores.
Halfords uses the data to learn about its customers, of whom 10,000 a week respond to its “Give us a steer survey”, which operates alongside brand research.
It is also testing personalised web experiences, so a customer who clicks through to its website from an email will see different products, depending on their browsing and buying preferences. This has paid off, it says, to the tune of an extra 1.5m visits to the website, which have brought extra sales.
What about the store? Halfords’ strategy of offering its customers services in-store helped to bring people into its shops, and to lift sales at the same time. In the most recently reported six-month period, staff carried out 2m fitting and repair jobs on cars and bikes. At the same time, service-related retail sales grew by 19.3%. Of the bulbs, batteries and blades that it sold, staff fitted more than a third (37%) to customers’ cars. This, it said, reflected “the increasing relevance of our services proposition to the growing proportion of do-it-for-me customers”. Dashcam fitting and cycle repairs are also an important part of the business.