Its website houses ideas to inspire customers about what they could do, alongside videos that show them how to do it. These are also shared and extended via social media platforms, putting the resources where existing and potential customers are browsing. Its Pinterest page, for example, features inspirational images of projects that range from building and maintaining a tree house, for example, to equipping and decorating a home office. This mirrors the platform’s role as a search and discovery platform. Meanwhile Wickes’ YouTube content features more practical approaches to tasks such as fitting a kitchen sink, wallpapering around sockets and removing and replacing a dishwasher.
A range of real-life stories show how customers have embarked on projects from brewing their own beer to designing a games room. On its Facebook page and Twitter feed, the retailer offers advice through #Wickesipedia alongside seasonal discounts and free design consultations. It’s via these pages too that it shares company news and charity fundraising results. Wickes also makes it easy for users to share its products further afield, whether that’s product information with friends via social media, or their opinions with the wider public through product reviews. It even gives advice on how to write a review, noting that comments are moderated and that content related to delivery and packaging, for example, won’t be shared.
It’s an overall approach that seems to work for the retailer, which is part of the larger Travis Perkins builders’ merchant groups. Along with its sister company Toolstation it forms Travis Perkins’ consumer division. At the bottom line, that division reported sales of £822m in the six months to June 30. That’s 7.3% up on the same time in the previous year, while adjusted operating profits of £45m were also up, by 2.3%.
At the time, chief executive John Carter said: “The robust growth and outperformance in our contracts and consumer divisions build on strong customer propositions and successful investments in those businesses.”
That growth is perhaps more notable since it comes at a time of sometimes challenging trading conditions. “Trading conditions in our markets continue to be mixed,” said Carter, “with consumer discretionary spending under pressure from rising inflation and ongoing uncertainty in the UK economy. We maintain our confidence in the long-term fundamental drivers of our markets, and this underpins our plan to invest in our businesses in order to improve our customer propositions and extend our competitive advantage.”