Topps Tiles today said its strategic focus on “world class” customer service and multichannel convenience would stand it in good stead for the long term, despite a dip in half-year sales and profits.
The tile specialist aims to “outspecialise the specialists” as it also looks to offer value for money and an “industry-leading product range”. As it reported sales of £106.6m in the six months to April 1 2017, down from £108.0m a year earlier, and pre-tax profits of £9.5m, down from £10.0m last time, it said that although current market conditions were challenging, “we remain confident in the longer term outlook for the business as our competitive position continues to strengthen.”
Here are some of the key points that Topps, a Top100 retailer in IRUK Top500 research and which trades online and through 359 stores, made about its multichannel strategy and customer service.
Topps says that convenience for its customers means a “seamlessly integrated shopping experience across all available channels – stores, online, mobile, telephone and also the important integration with their tile fitter”.
The specialist tile retailer says that its customers’ journeys often start online, and that almost all visit the store at some point. According to its own research, about 90% will visit its website at some stage in their transaction, while 75% will visit the website before they come into a store. That means, it says, “Our website is key in allowing our customers to research their projects, draw inspiration from our visualiser and showcase our market-leading range,” while it is also opening more stores.
As of April 1 Topps operated 359 stores. It aims to have 450 across the UK over the longer-term, of which 10 are scheduled to open in the second half. The retailer has redesigned its stores to fit in smaller spaces: it currently has 15 ’boutique’ stores over 1,000 sq ft, which its research suggests have had a ‘halo’ effect and brought customers to its larger core stores to complete their purchase. It has also developed a smaller format ‘core’ shop that fits into 2,000 to 3,000 sq ft.
Topps is looking to make the online and in-store customer experience “as inspirational and complementary as possible”. Online it deploys tools such as digital brochures, mobile optimisation, integrates its trade rewards loyalty scheme, and has updated its visualiser tool to show what tiles would look like in more varied room settings. Visuals can be created in stores during a consultation and then emailed to the customer at home, or created online by the customer.
Topps has a net promoter score of 69% and says that customer service is “critical to our success because our customers continue to value it highly”. It has focused on promoting Topps as a place to work, on engaging with staff, and has launched a new learning management system which enables staff to increase their technical product knowledge.