Shop Direct hails ‘big data and tech’ investments for profit surge
Shop Direct’s profits surged 78 per cent to £71.7m in its financial year, with the business crediting its decision to become a fully digital retailer for the upswing.
The jump occurred in the year ending to 30 June, the seller’s third consecutive year of record profits. Sales for the group, which owns Very.co.uk, VeryExclusive.co.uk and Littlewoods.com rose 3 per cent to £1.8bn in the period, with Very.co.uk contributing more than £850m due to a 21.1 per cent sales hike.
It’s testament to the rapid but efficient transition of the business from offline to online, encapsulated by its decision to axe the Littlewoods catalogue after more than 80 years. Just three years ago 72 per cent of the group’s sales were from catalogue customers whereas now it’s 0 per cent. And the number of customers shopping along as well as the amount they are purchasing products has exceeded expectations, according to chief executive Alex Baldock.
Moving forward, personalisation is set to be a key growth lever for the group in the hope of sharpening the marketing that brings shoppers into stores, the shop they enter and the post purchase communications. To fuel its efforts, the business is leaning harder on its user experience lab, which is capable of running 100 tests a month – all driven by what the group calls “advanced funnel analytics”.
“Very.co.uk and mobile have been the outstanding performers for us. We’re working hard to keep our lead in m-commerce, and Very is now the UK’s fastest growing department store,” claimed Baldock. “This is now a disciplined business too, in the way we sell, spend and lend, which makes for a more profitable and resilient Shop Direct.”
He went on to say how being “online-only means more mobile innovation, especially in personalisation where aim to offer each customer an experience as unique as she is”.
“Our investment in big data and technology has started to pay off and is making these new levels of personalisation possible.”
Four months into its new year and the company believes its in the best shape to prosper in the peak Christmas period. It expects further investments in data, technology and customer experience to drive another record year.