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Dunelm maps out new website launch plans

Furniture and homewares retailer Dunelm plans to introduce a beta version of its new website to a small proportion of its customers this summer, as it prepares for a smooth launch.

The new site will be run using the technology and intellectual property it gained via the company’s acquisition of Worldstores, a brand which Dunelm has now phased out. The senior team at Dunelm had previously said the technology will provide the business with a more agile platform on which to run the retailer’s eCommerce offering.

Instead of relying on a third-party supplier for the website, Dunelm is keen to operate an in-house system that will give it the flexibility to launch services such as click & collect as soon as the new website goes live.

In an interim trading statement for the 26 weeks to 29 December 2018, published today (13 February), Dunelm acknowledged it was “still playing catch up as a multichannel retailer, having grown up as a store-based retailer”, but indicated that this was being addressed “at pace by seizing digital opportunities which will improve our offer”. 

The new website launch is a key part of the digital opportunities referenced, and customers will start seeing the refreshed online functionality in the coming months.

“We are focused on introducing the new platform in a way which avoids disruption to the strong growth we are already seeing through the existing Dunelm.com platform,” explained CEO Nick Wilkinson.

“The pace of roll-out will be contingent on the results from this initial launch. In the meantime, our existing platform is trading well, and we continue to see opportunities for further growth before we switchover.”

In today’s statement, Dunelm said its stores “remain fundamental to our multichannel capabilities”, with three to five shops per year expected to open over the medium-term. The company currently operates 171 stores in the UK, and it views “full coverage” in the country as approximately 200 stores.

Dunelm continues to blur the boundaries of physical and digital retailing via its use of staff tablet devices in store, with what it described as an increased focus on online ranging and trading across its product categories. The number of “customer hosts” in stores – those armed with tablet devices to talk shoppers through the full inventory – now stands at 1,200, and the retailer said it has provided the relevant staff training.

For the half-year period, the business said it experienced a 6.9% increase in like-for-like revenue to £506.7 million, increased market share, and a 17% underlying pre-tax profits rise to £70 million.

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