Very reports a merry Christmas as sales jump 6.1%

Online multi-goods retailer highlighted several intriguing technology trends, as it reported a 6.1% rise in sales for the important seven-week period leading up to 27 December 2019.

Sales growth was reported across all four product categories – fashion & sportswear (9.6%), electrical (5.7%), home (1.4%), and other (2.9%) – and total revenue, including financial services income, was up by 3.4% year-on-year. At a group level, which includes Littlewoods, group retail sales only grew by 2.5% and revenue was flat year-on-year for the reported period.

The business, which officially rebranded to The Very Group earlier this week, is a keen investor in new technology, and it provided specific detail around how its customers shopped over peak.

There were reportedly 92.5 million visits to during the seven-week period, up 14.4% year-on-year, while sales via the Very app grew by 32.3%. A longer Black Friday sales drive, spanning 8 November to 4 December 2019, resulted in an 18% hike in website and app traffic compared to the 2018 campaign, but the business didn't report how this impacted profitability.

Customer service contact was said to have been down by 20% year-on-year, which was attributed to better service. However, the company, which has been a prominent chatbot user, said 202,000 customer queries were handled via the Very Assistant chatbot in the Christmas build-up, which will have replaced some of the need for contact centres.

The group said it used real-time browsing data and on-site behaviour to personalise emails and push notifications to provide customers with “relevant” deals and communications.

It also revealed it monitored social media to understand deal types being talked about in different geographical locations, which helped the business tailor outdoor digital ad content to reflect local demand.

Henry Birch, group CEO at The Very Group, hailed “an amazing Black Friday and Christmas” after what he described as a “subdued” autumn for the sector as a whole.

“More than at any other time, our customers value being able to spread the cost on the brands they love at Christmas,” he explained.

“This year we laid on the best and most relevant deals, made them easier to find than ever before through personalised experiences, and offered even greater flexibility for when and how they were delivered.”

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