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Jigsaw focusing on the little pieces for multichannel success

By its own admission, Jigsaw UK has moved from a position of declining sales and profit, inconsistency across channels and a disjointed product proposition two years ago to a situation where it is experiencing top- and bottom-line growth – and one of the key factors contributing to the turnaround is seemingly a back-to-basics approach.

The buying & merchandising director at the fashion retailer, Shailina Parti, explained at an event on Tuesday that Peter Ruis's arrival as CEO in 2013 took the business in a new direction, made up of many small changes across the organisation.

Tweaks made to digital and traditional retailing processes alike have apparently helped push the retailer to a 10% year-on-year sales increase and a customer mix that is now made up of 45% new shoppers and 55% loyal consumers. Around half of the new shoppers are coming from the web, Parti noted.

She told delegates at the Buying & Merchandising Summit in London that the business has worked hard to create "a coordinated collection rather than a rail of clothes", and the retailer is looking to replicate this joined-up message across its physical, online, mobile and social platforms.

Ensuring stores each have their distinct look and feel, related to local markets, has been combined with an edited overall product range, investment in major marketing campaigns, the launch of a new website, a more concerted effort on stimulating social media engagement, and a move away from heavy promotional activity.

"One of the things we've tried to do is bring every touch point together," Parti explained, citing how the new product photography used online now compliments the fresh approach to visual merchandising in its store windows. In addition, the same messages around clothing fit and sizing displayed on the website are taught in detail to staff operating in the shops.

Mobile-friendly

Jigsaw recently revamped its website with BT Expedite, marking a clear move towards becoming more mobile friendly.

Retail in general is fast discovering that mobile and tablets are becoming increasingly important platforms on which to engage with customers, with IMRG and Capgemini statistics suggesting UK mCommerce grew by 33% year-on-year in August alone. Parti revealed that the biggest single sale completed at Jigsaw UK last week was made on a smartphone, with £2,400 spent by one female customer.

"Every week there are new measures. We can measure our highest spenders, we're starting to take the data in but we haven't worked out [exactly] how to use it."

On last week's high transaction value, she added: "We will email the women to invite her to a customer evening next week. We're inviting our top spenders to enjoy a glass of something and preview the new collection."

This is one way in which retailers such as Jigsaw can start using the data to bring extra benefit to their customers and their own businesses, but the challenge – as recognised by many of the retail speakers at Tuesday's summit – is how can organisations get their data into one single pool to derive long-term commercial and communication benefits from this information.

Parti says there is real momentum behind the Jigsaw brand at present, and a recent upgrade to the website gives online customers a chance to view stock levels by product and by store. However, underpinning the return to sales growth is the development of a "brand DNA", summed up with the tagline "Style and Truth" – and this messaging is including across social channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where followers are growing month by month.

Another key move for Jigsaw, according to Parti, has been a move away from heavy promotional activity, which is radically impacting many other sectors of the retail industry, notably the grocery world where value retailers entering the UK have promoted widespead markdowns in the middle market. Under Ruis at Jigsaw, a clear strategy has been established and is being followed.

"We do not promote and it's so refreshing," Parti noted.

"[We run] two sales a year – we really try and keep the promotional calendar tight and clean."

Jigsaw has 71 stores and a website in the UK, with 36 concessions in other retailers such as department store chain John Lewis. The business also continues to roll out on an international scale, and is expanding its store networks in Dubai, South Africa, Australia and beyond.