Homebase plans to start making use of its Nectar data and is trialling coupons at the till that offer customers deals based on their past purchases and current shopping basket. Non-Nectar customers will be offered a coupon based purely on their current purchase.
It has also just launched a new website with a focus on “high-quality inspirational content” that encourages customers to register and log-in so it can collect valuable customer data and personalise content and offers on the site. Argos, meanwhile, is planning to make use of the information it has on the 11 million customers that have registered for its My Account service so it can market to people in a more personalised manner.
John Walden, Home Retail Group’s chief executive, said on a conference call following the retailer’s results this morning (30 April): “A big focus this year is to increase customer registrations both online and in-store. This will allow us to better tailor our offer via bespoke product and promotion recommendations.”
Home Retail Group is also investing heavily in overhauling its stores and digital business to position it as a “digital retail leader”. At Homebase, this includes a new store format that is currently in 3 stores but will be expanded to a further 12 this financial year, with the first of these that make use of the learnings from the initial phase of revamps opening in Worcester on Friday (2 May).
Walden claimed refitted stores have seen a sales uplift of between 15 and 20 per cent, consistent with initial expectations. He added that Homebase would now look to take on “specialist retailers”, such as furniture chains, on factors including range, the in-store experience and digital capabilities.
At Argos, Walden said there are plans to launch Argos concessions within Homebase for the first time and it is planning to open new small format stores in London, although no further details were provided. It is also extending its trial of six digital concept stores to an additional 25 locations, while key components such as fast track collection and online order prepayment are being rolled out across its store network.
Argos will also invest more in digital marketing following the successful trial of its first digital catalogue at Christmas. Walden said the traditional paper catalogue will continue to undergo an “evolution”, with the retailer planning to trial a catalogue that is 25 per cent smaller in the North East of England and launch seasonal, but smaller, versions, with the first due for the autumn/winter season.
“We want to retain the good will that out customers have for the catalogue but migrate people over to more contemporary digital formats,” said Walden.
Argos is also continuing with plans to make its marketing “more universal” as it looks to boost its appeal, having previously had a bias towards less affluent customers. It will add a further 1,400 lines to “fill in the gaps” in the mid and more aspirational markets, while raising the profile of its own brands.
To do this, Argos plans to reduce its brand portfolio by 40 per cent and focus its efforts on boosting the brand value of those left. It will, however, launch two new brands in the toys and home categories that Walden says will be “power brands” and see significant investment in terms of product and marketing.
Argos recently trademarked “Heart of House” but has said it will not reveal details on the brand until later this year.