Six months after bringing in a new CEO from Amazon, UK-based department store chain Debenhams is working to make its physical stores "more digital" and placing a greater emphasis on leisure experiences befitting an era of "social shopping."
The retailer's new strategy, dubbed "Debenhams Redesigned," was announced in conjunction with the release of its interim results for the 26 weeks ended March 4, 2017.
For the period, ecommerce sales rose 14.6%, driven by a 64% increase in mobile commerce—growth rates significantly higher than the company's 0.6% increase in gross sales in the UK or its 2.9% gain in companywide sales, which include stores in Ireland and Denmark (as Magasin du Nord) and franchised locations in the Middle East.
Debenhams isn't alone among UK retailers seeing ecommerce—and mobile commerce in particular—playing a rising role in retail sales.
eMarketer expects retail mcommerce to represent 40.4% of UK retail ecommerce sales and 7.6% of total retail sales in the country this year—both new highs.
"Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too," said CEO Sergio Bucher, who joined the company from Amazon in October 2016, in announcing the initiative. "Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun whichever channel our customers use. We will be a destination for 'social shopping' with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers.
"If we deliver differentiated and distinctive brands, services and experiences both online and in stores, our customers will visit us more frequently and, having simplified our operations to make us more efficient, we will be able to serve them better and make better use of our resources."
Pillars of the digital program include moves such as upgrading technology to help unify the business via mobile and encourage greater incremental business from customers who arrive to pick up online orders.