Bonmarche eyes eCommerce conversion rate improvement

Women's clothing retailer Bonmarche plans to introduce a fully responsive website next month, as part of a range of digital improvements that also includes an upgrade to its site's search and navigation functionality.

The business said in December last year that moves to improve its website had been delayed due to the acquisition of its eCommerce partner Venda, by NetSuite, but it now appears the digital refresh is ready to take place.

In today's preliminary results statement for the 12 months to 28 March 2015, which showed that revenue was up 8.7% year on year to £178.6 million and profit before tax rose 55.3% to £12.4 million, Bonmarche revealed it will be working with tech firm Attraqt to boost its visual merchandising, site search and online product recommendations.

Bonmarche will use Attraqt's Freestyle Merchandising platform, which is also used by the likes of Ben Sherman, Fat Face and Warehouse.

A further customer-facing tech investment will see the business roll out a new, improved fulfilment service, which will give its shoppers an opportunity to track and trace parcels ordered online.

Investment in eCommerce and technology comes as non-store sales at Bonmarche reached £13.3 million last year, up from £9.7 million one year before. These sales include call centre, catalogue and online revenue, but the website is the leading non-store channel and now represents 7.4% of the retailer's total sales mix.

Beth Butterwick, CEO of Bonmarche, commented: "One of the most striking changes that we have observed in customer behaviour has been the increase in use of tablet devices, particularly for research, and to a lesser extent, smartphones.

"Traffic reaching the website via tablets now accounts for 38% of all traffic and represents 32% of our online sales mix, a 75% increase on last year. Sales transacted using desktop or laptop computers have declined by 20%, and, whilst relatively small, sales transacted via mobile devices have increased to 6% of total online sales."

Bonmarche opened 29 new stores in the last financial year, bringing its total property estate to 292 stores. For the current financial year, the target is to open five own stores and 15-20 concession locations. The business will also be stepping up its programme to replace the store fascias, rolling out a personal shopping service to all stores and replacing the current in-store mystery shopper programme with an online customer satisfaction survey.

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