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Shipping from stores boosts Urban Outfitters

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Lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters has said its multichannel strategy is driving sales growth, with first-quarter figures showing a jump in web traffic and nearly $9m in extra sales from using stores to fulfill web orders.

Richard Hayne, chief executive of the retail group, said online growth was “breathtaking” and accounted for a growing percentage of total retail sales. Each brand, including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People , has reported double-digit gains in online sales compared with the first quarter of last year.

Overall web traffic is up nearly 20% compared with the first quarter of last year, with mobile traffic doubling and better use of data analytics, personalisation and segmentation helping to improve conversions rates, Hayne said.

And multichannel initiatives that allow shipping of web orders from stores are also boosting the business. “The pick, pack and ship initiative that came online last year accounted for approximately $9m in additional business in the first quarter, and we’re pretty pleased with that,” said Hayne. “It is costing us a little bit extra in terms of staffing and supplies in the stores, but we feel that it’s more than made up for by the extra sales.”

For the quarter to April 30, Urban Outfitters reported net sales of $648.2m, up 14% from $568.9 million in the first quarter of last year, and net income of $47.1m, a 39% increase from $34m.

Also during the quarter, Urban Outfitters’ Free People brand launched FP Me, a social shopping web site aimed at encouraging shoppers to engage directly with the brand. So far, FP Me members have uploaded more than 10,000 pictures of themselves and their friends wearing Free People items, Hayne said.

The retailer is no longer reporting direct-to-consumer sales separately from store sales because the lines between the two are getting more and more blurred, Hayne said.

Urban Outfitters has grown its web sales in the past decade from $7.3m to $663.3m – a startling 90-fold increase.

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