Carpetright puts the emphasis on the multichannel customer experience
Carpetright is putting the emphasis on developing a multichannel customer experience as it looks to create a floorings-to-beds retailer to meet the demands of the modern consumer and to perform in a competitive market.
It said its new "updated and more inspirational" website, launched in April 2015, has been successful in encouraging shoppers into stores, while also being mobile-friendly. That's important, it says, because although most customers visit a store at some point while they are buying flooring or a bed, the importance of digital technology as a research tool is growing.
"While the ability to visit a store to touch and view the product and to obtain specialist advice prior to making a purchase remain critical," the company said in its full-year results, "the internet has become a vital research tool for many customers and the rapid growth in the use of mobile devices has made an integrated multichannel proposition a necessity."
Carpetright's strategic plan focuses on the customer experience through measures including a web-based customer service programme, which has seen 70,000 individual customer reviews added since it was launched in January. It is also training staff through a Carpetright Academy focusing on product knowledge and customer service, while investing £4.5m in a systems upgrade aimed at improving the in-store purchasing experience.
The retailer is reshaping its store estate in the light of digital, reducing store sizes and moving existing stores to better sites while reducing the overall of catchment areas. During the year it opened 12 stores and closed 24 to reach a total of 460. Elsewhere in Europe the company has 137 stores.
The update came as Carpetright reported sales of £462.6m in the 52 weeks to May 2, 3.3% ahead of the same time last year. Pre-tax profits came in at £5.4m, a turnaround from losses of £7.2m last time.
Visits to the Carpetright website grew by 27.6% over the year, with an average of more than 110,000 weekly visitors to the website. The number of sales converted from call centre leads rose as well, following improved store follow up. The company says that sales generated through the combination of call centre and online grew during the year to bring in the same turnover as one of its top 10 retail stores.
Chief executive Wilf Walsh said this had been a "year of significant progress," and that while the company was still at the beginning of its strategic journey to broaden Carpetright's appear and reposition the business to capital on its market leadership, "we have a clear direction and the positive results we are seeing from a number of our initial activities give us confidence that we are on the right path."