Andy Harding is Director of E-commerce at House of Fraser, and was one of the expert contibutors to our How the Internet Can Save the High Street report. 

House of Fraser has successfuly implemented a buy and collect service which drives almost a third of its orders, while it has also been using mobile effevtively. 

I’ve been asking Andy about the use of the web to drive in-store sales, and his advice for smaller offline retailers… 

How important is buy and collect for House of Fraser? 

35% of our orders are being collected in store, and even more than that from customers in a store catchment area. Of those we also know that a significant proportion are truly incremental, as customers would not have purchased from us without it.

Add on the fact that 25% of people make an unplanned add on purchase when in the store and you can see that it is a vital service for our customers.

How are you using the web and mobile to improve and enhance the in-store experience for customers? 

We have many services that we are rolling out in our stores that enhance their shopping experience. Customers can connect to free Wi-Fi, download the app, and check in when they arrive in store.   

We have in store mapping capabilities in some trial stores that allow customers to navigate around the store using their phone. They can also scan QR codes to purchase whole outfits on display, or check to see the full range on a particular brand.

They can scan barcodes to see what other colours are available to order or to see if there are any sizes that are not ranged in store. We are also rolling out using loyalty points as a way to drive behaviours in store – loyalty gamification if you like.

Has the use of TV and video in store had a noticeable effect? 

Only anecdotal feedback from our customer satisfaction surveys but customers do like to see video in stores.

How many people are using QR and barcodes in store? Are you using them to deliver special offers, or to provide more detailed information on products?

The volumes are relatively small at the moment but it is growing very, very rapidly.  

We are certainly still in education phase whereby we are working to bring the mobile experience into the front of customers’ minds.

However, the one thing we are not doing is using codes to drive special offers, as we don’t want them to associate that kind of behaviour with using their mobile phone.

We want them to see the value in using their mobiles to enhance their experience by providing more information and opportunities to access products.

You have mobile apps, websites etc. Are they helping to drive footfall into stores?  

Absolutely. One of the key features in the new app is a stock finder that allows customers to see which stock is available in which stores.  

We know that lots of customers use this feature each week so we can conclude that it is driving footfall.

How do you encourage customers to download and make the most of mobile apps? 

We feature the app in all of our email comms, on the website,  in our paid search adverts, on the blog, through our social channels, pretty much all of our usual comms. 

You used O2 wi-fi in stores around Christmas, to target offers etc. How did this work? Will you be rolling it out into more stores? 

It worked very well and we are looking to roll it out, as above.

If you were a small offline retailer, how would you use the web to increase sales and footfall into stores(on a budget)?  

Build a tight website with the store’s products and ranges and preferably with some transactional capability which can be fulfilled from the store itself.  

Ensure the website has a really good store locator and that all the content can be accessed on a mobile. Then add a small paid search budget across some long tail terms and keep reinvesting any profits into growing the online range.

Then, as soon as the budget will allow, add in the capability to order from the website in the store.

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