British retailer House of Fraser is experimenting with a 'buy and collect' format, a place where customers can try on the clothes they ordered online before taking them home. The chain has two such stores so far, in Liverpool and Aberdeen.
Physical services for web customers
The choice for these cities came after a surge in online orders - especially from Liverpool, where the department store chain had no physical branch. From now on, customers can not only collect their orders at a convenient moment, they can also check if their size and colour are correct. If this is not the case, they can either change sizes if necessary or even get an instant refund.
The new 'buy and collect'-concept is aimed at cities where House of Fraser is not yet present with a 'real' store. The chain does not intend to turn the new branches into 'normal' stores, but still aims to give a “personal touch” there through personal style advice, places to sit and even touch screens so customers can shop online in the store itself – quite a unique feat. “This is a personal service”, says CEO John King. “We are bringing the services of a flagship store to the smaller high streets”.
Breaking the £100 million barrier
The group hopes this move will lift them over the £100 million milestone (€115 million) for web sales revenue in 2011 – that would be twice the amount of last year; though still just a small part of the chain's total turnover that was just over 1 billion pounds for 2010.
House of Fraser is not the first chain to look for more “bricks” - even for their “clicks”-activities. The Belgian postal services bpost, the London branch of Amazon.co.uk and also Tesco are looking for, or have already realised, similar 'click and collect'-stores.