UK department store chain House of Fraser has teamed up with the tech company set up by ex-Kiddicare execs Simon Harrow and Scott Weavers-Wright, to help bring traditional merchandising techniques to its digital offering.

The retailer has reported on a successful trial using technology from Elevaate, where selected House of Fraser partner brands could bid to feature their products on the website of the department store. Following the test period, House of Fraser is set to roll out the platform to all of its brand partners.

Elevaate describes itself as an online product placement platform that optimises trade funding on the web, with the goal of helping retailers more efficiently capitalise on the growing revenue from eCommerce. The most recent figures from e-tail trade association IMRG indicate that total online retail sales in 2015 increased by 11% year-on-year, equating to around £114 billion

IMRG and Capgemini's index for online sales forecasts a further 11% growth will occur in 2016, with total e-retail sales estimated to be worth £126 billion by the end of the year.

Andy Harding, chief customer officer at House of Fraser, remarked: "Using the Elevaate cloud platform provides our brand partners with the flexibility to bid for digital shelf position in real-time, which means key products can be promoted online to complement traditional in-store displays.

"The platform will offer the agility our brand partners need to help them increase sales for specific products or collections."

The online retail technology investment comes on the back of some encouraging festive trading figures for House of Fraser.

Like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 2 January 2016 were up by 5.3% year on year, while on Black Friday alone total sales were up 10% on 2014. In the seven days directly leading up to 25 December like-for-like trading was up 6%, with online growing by 61.8%.

Store sales, once adjusted for web refunds, increased by 2.2%, while a dozen House of Fraser shops reportedly delivered their best ever sales for this time of year.

It was interesting to see House of Fraser make clear that store sales growth included the effect of refunds offered for online sales. Last year saw Marks & Spencer revise four years' worth of online sales figures after it emerged the high street business had not been reporting figures for goods that had been bought online but then returned to stores.

House of Fraser's deal with Elevaate is a case of the retailer starting 2016 where it left off in 2015, in terms of technology investment.

Having begun 2015 with the launch of a new mobile app, the year also saw the business agree new logistics and search engine optimisation arrangements with third-party providers. Around the Black Friday weekend, the retailer launched 'shoppable windows' in a number of its stores, allowing passers-by to scan QR codes with their smartphones to access content and purchase products.

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