New Look's eCommerce focus boosts growth

Multichannel development and investment in eCommerce are driving sales at high street fashion retailer New Look, as the company continues its digital and in-store transformation.

The retailer has had to make a number of staff and stock maintenance cutbacks in recent years, and this now appears to be having a positive impact on the company's bottom line, but online sales growth is where huge growth opportunities currently exist.  

Quarterly results released today (Tuesday 13 August) showed that New Look's online sales jumped 78.7% year on year for the 13 weeks ended 29 June.

Anusha Couttigane, fashion consultant at retail research agency Conlumino, said that despite arguably being a latecomer to eCommerce, New Look has "one of the most developed online services" of all its main fashion rivals, which include H&M and Primark.

"Its pop-up live chat function is innovative and makes it extremely user friendly, whilst tapping into celebrity culture in its style updates is a clear demonstration of New Look's on-trend proposition," she explained.

However, with Primark recently announcing a partnership with leading online fashion retailer Asos, which Couttigane describes as "one of the most generous online players in terms of fulfilment capabilities", there might be a number of changes New Look must implement to stay competitive.

"Refining its delivery charges would make New Look's online proposition far more attractive and give its eCommerce growth more security," she added.

New Look's first-quarter update showed that group like-for-like sales were up 0.3% on last year, while EBITDA increased by 13.1%. It is clear that online sales development is driving the business forward, and the retailer's future success will depend partly on how it can join up the digital and the physical aspects of its operations.

This process will be particularly important in attracting the tech-savvy, smartphone-using teenage girl market, which is New Look's key customer base.

"Its mCommerce channel is really starting to see traction – it reinforces New Look’s social media outreach, which has also gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months," noted Couttigane.

"These are important moves in a generation where the majority of New Look's target market use technology."

CEO Anders Kristiansen said that the business is confident that recent range improvements, store refurbishments and online investment will continue to provide a platform for the retailer to progress, and a recent partnership with parcel and carrier firm Global Freight Solutions (GFS) would suggest the latter is viewed as a priority.

The clothing firm is now using the GFS Selector tool to boost its home delivery fulfilment and click & collect services, and now has the potential to handle more than 30,000 individual orders per day.

Stephen Ferguson, business development director at GFS, commented: "Speed of label generation may seem a peripheral issue, but it is crucial to any major eCommerce business – regardless of whether goods are being shipped to store or to customers' homes, retailers need to be able to produce labels quickly.

"For a brand like New Look, which processes millions of orders during the year, it assumes particular importance during peak seasons, when the volume of items being dispatched grows substantially and therefore the need for speed and accuracy is at its greatest."