Blokker Holding established a new Shared Service Center (SSC) in 2014 under the name Nextail. Nextail accommodates the e-commerce and omnichannel activities of Blokker Holding, with the objective of increasing these activities at a faster pace for, and together with, our formats. Nextail is located in Amsterdam in a modern building and offers its employees a transparent, inspiring and enjoyable work environment.
Consumer behaviour has changed fundamentally in recent years, mainly as a result of the emergence of online sales channels. Customers determine where, when and how they make their purchases and expect to receive excellent service in the process. Meanwhile, the exponential growth of the mobile services market has also had a radical impact on how consumers prepare for purchases. In 2014, one-third (36%) of all customers accessed our webshops using a mobile device. Google refers to this as the ‘zero moment of truth’, meaning you need to be visible as soon as customers appear online.
CLOSE TO THE CUSTOMER
While online pre-purchase research and sales continue to grow substantially, around 90% of all non-food retail sales continue to be made in physical, brick-and-mortar stores. The majority of consumers do not fall neatly into the category of either ‘strictly online’ customers or traditional shoppers. Customers may choose to shop online one day and be in the mood to visit a store the next, driven by factors such as the convenience of ordering items from the comfort of their home or the option of actually seeing the physical product before they purchase it. Another growing trend we are seeing is that consumers like to shop at online retailers which also operate physical stores. This is both because of the trust they place in these retailers, which tend to be well established, and because they have the option to collect their orders and return them with minimal inconvenience. An additional advantage is that they know they will receive a high level of service. At Blokker Holding, we therefore firmly believe that this omnichannel customer behaviour will only continue to grow in the future.
FIVE OMNICHANNEL PILLARS
Our mission is to use a customer-centric approach to provide consumers with the option to purchase products when they want, how they want and where they want through seamless and personalised service across all channels. We have developed this into five omnichannel pillars.
- offers a value-for-money proposition with a competitive product range in our core product lines and a fast-growing range in the High Online Destination (HOD) categories
- uses qualitative content and ‘rich media’ to be able to provide high-quality information to customers
- facilitates a consistent integration of channels and a seamless experience across all channels, maintaining a single, consistent customer profile throughout
- provides customer-focused, efficient and cross-channel customer service
- knows our customers and communicates our omnichannel proposition in a cost-effective way across all channels
The group’s online sales revenues increased by 24%: from EUR 79 million to EUR 98 million, at a profit. The number of visitors has also grown markedly: from 95 million in 2013 to 107 million in 2014. This is to be credited mostly to the expansion of our online marketing activities. Examples of this include the automated use of media through application programming interface (API) using Google and the expansion of product feeds to aggregator sites and affiliates.
The number of orders placed has also increased sharply: from 1.3 million to 1.7 million following the expansion of the online product range, improved conversion rates and increased online marketing efforts. The number of visitors and fans and the amount of feedback on social media has also increased across the board. The number of Facebook fans increased by more than 140%, with Intertoys showing the most spectacular growth at 400%.
We improved our IT infrastructure and logistics options in the past year and will continue to do so in the years to come. We converted several webshops to the new web platform in 2014 and have been working hard on developing webshops for Blokker Belgium and Xenos The Netherlands, which went live in February and March 2015, respectively. We also further developed our omnichannel proposition in the new retail format of Blokker with an improved click & collect service, Wi-Fi and the availability of in-store technologies such as digital product information screens, kiosks and tablets. The Bart Smit and Leen Bakker stores began making their online product ranges available, both to ensure the most comprehensive possible range and to be able to provide more product information to our customers. We refer to this as the ‘endless aisle’, i.e. the extension online of the product ranges available in our physical stores. This enables us to provide the most extensive possible product range in both our online and offline channels.
FACTS AND FIGURES
OUTLOOK AND ACTIVITIES FOR 2015
We developed a three-year strategy and a roadmap with the objective of making Blokker Holding the leading omnichannel non-food retailer in the Benelux market. The implementation of this strategy will continue in 2015. As part of this strategy, we focus on the following areas:
- Further improvement and alignment of the IT landscape
- Expansion of the long-tail product range online
- Rollout of kiosks across all formats
- Optimisation of click & collect
- Increase in the number of delivery options
- Launch of mobile websites
- Improved usability and conversion rates
- Enriching content
The omnichannel-vision of Blokker Holding.