The Entertainer talks up click & collect offering

Leveraging store portfolios through services such as click & collect is a key tactic for retailers as they compete with pure-plays such as Amazon, according to The Entertainer's multichannel director Duncan Grant.

Commenting at the British Retail Consortium's International Retailing 2014, last week, Grant said it is crucial to find points of differentiation, adding that his business has reported significant success with the click & collect service it introduced in 2012.

The Entertainer's 30-minute order & pick-up service allows its customers to make an order via their smartphone and collect it from a store in half an hour, which Grant suggested has been "a very powerful driver" for the firm. Meanwhile, the company recently described its online sales as "robust", with click & collect orders up 93% in the five weeks leading up to Christmas 2013.

"For anyone who is selling branded goods, you need to look at how you differentiate yourselves," Grant explained, before adding that in around three years' time he expects free delivery to be the norm, as long as customers spend over a certain amount.

This philosophy is seemingly relevant in international retailing as well as when operating at home, and The Entertainer's multichannel boss said there is an opportunity for UK companies to leverage their expertise in online retailing when expanding abroad. He also suggested that some of the eCommerce techniques taken for granted in the UK are seen as "revolutionary" in other markets.

The Entertainer opened its first international store last year, in Dubai, and it is planning ten further openings in new territories in 2014, as it looks to build on the recent success of its 90 stores in the UK.

In March, the business reported growth in like-for-like sales for its 2013-14 financial year, with record pre-tax profit of £5.96 million – an increase of 16% year on year. It also picked up the online toy retailer of the year prize at the Toy & Hobby Association Awards in 2011 and 2012.