Homebase upgrades online as productivity plan rolls on

UK-based DIY retailer Homebase is placing a particular focus on digital content, introducing new technology that it hopes will enhance the experience of its online customers.

Ecommerce software provider Coremedia's LiveContext 2.0 application is being deployed by the business to give its online marketing team an opportunity to blend promotional pages, how-to guides and microsites with transactional pages. The app is combined with IBM's WebSphere Commerce.

Homebase's multichannel sales grew 10% last year and now represent 8% of overall trading at the business, and the changes announced to the website this week come after the company launched a new app at the start of 2015, which gives shoppers an option to check stock, reserve in-store and find their nearest store using GPS.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick, director of multichannel at Homebase, commented: "With a growing number of Homebase customers either shopping online or going to our website for ideas before visiting one of our stores, it's essential that our website provides our customers with as much inspiration, advice and support for their home and garden projects.

"Combined with IBM WebSphere Commerce, Coremedia LiveContext 2.0 provides the flexibility to respond to our customers with richer and more engaging online experiences. It also allows us to dynamically adapt our online presence to meet evolving customer requirements."

Last year saw Homebase's parent company Home Retail Group (HRG) undertake a review of how the DIY retailer is run and the conclusion, in October, was that a number of improvements were needed if the business was to function efficiently in the modern retailing landscape.

The report concluded that Homebase faced several challenges, including inconsistent store operating standards, an oversized store estate and a need to accelerate its digital and fulfilment capabilities.

In response to these challenges, the business has developed a 'Homebase Productivity Plan' that will see the retailer aim to raise standards and efficiency via a number of measures, including a 25% reduction in the Homebase store estate and an upgraded digital offer that leverages the investments and innovations currently being made by sister company Argos.

The plan will be rolled out over the next three years, and HRG said last month that it will result in it becoming "a stronger business with better financial ratios".

Sales at Homebase in the 12 months to 28 February 2015 totalled £1.48 billion.

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