House of Fraser COO urges marketers to embrace multichannel

In order to be truly multichannel, retail brands must have a consistent voice across their business or risk a backlash, according to House of Fraser’s COO Andy Harding, who was speaking on Marketing Week Live’s Big Debate stage today.

Predicting that net sales at the fashion retailer would increase by 19.1% to £306m in 2015, he said its adoption of in-store technology has been key to recent successes.

“We’ve really tried to combine all of our retail and brand marketing with online and mobile so there’s a single strategy throughout the business,” Harding told delegates.

“You have to bring everything together, from in-store to mobile apps, or you lose credibility. I don’t like the term ominichannel as every experience should be seen as unique.”

Over recent years, House of Fraser has introduced beacon-powered mannequins, which can recommend products to in-store consumers using their smartphones. It has also moved to make its online retail website designed for touch screen systems in order to boost functionality for mobile and tablet users.

Harding said that House of Fraser had “dramatically driven” mobile app use in store and revealed it would soon introduce a payments feature to the app.

When asked how multichannel and digital features could change the future in-store experience, he responded: “I think there could be magic mirrors in our shops, which give advice to customers trying on clothes and self-service tills like the supermarkets. I think the face of high street retail will change drastically due to multichannel technologies.”

Personalisation is key

Also speaking during the Big Debate presentation was Jennifer Day, head of customer management and personalisation at Littlewoods and’s owner Shop Direct.

In the year to 30 June 2014, profits at online retail driven Shop Direct rose to £64.6m, with 44% of sales now coming from tablets and mobile phones.

“We have a personalisation hub and it isn’t unusual for up to 100 experiments to go on a month,” she said.

“I think brands have to adapt a ‘can do’ attitude to personalisation as it’s really changed our business and the evolution from catalogues to digital.”

One of those experiments includes utilising geographic location tracking to update pages on to display clothes suitable based on the live weather conditions in an online shopper’s area.

House of Fraser has 1.2m variations of its homepage and 7,500 variations of its customer newsletters, and Day claimed that personalisation efforts will drive incremental sales of £20m to Shop Direct in 2015.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here