Jones the Bootmaker is planning a number of changes to its multichannel operations in the new year, with click & collect services likely to be rolled out before the end of 2012.
The 154-year-old shoe specialist is looking to leverage its relationship with the tech-savvy footwear retailer Brantano, which shares Dutch corporate Macintosh as its parent company following the £40 million acquisition of Jones in January 2011.
Andrew White, Chief Operating Officer of Jones, told Retail Gazette that, although the brands remain very separate, he believes the work Macintosh is doing with Brantano in terms of cross-channel development could ultimately benefit his business in the coming months.
“On the continent Macintosh was a pioneer in using online shopping so it is an area where I believe we can learn from them,” he commented.
“Click & collect is becoming more and more relevant for footwear retailers and fashion specialists in general.
“It works well because it benefits the local store and the customers can get the same level of service as they would in store. We see it as more of a win than just a standalone internet store and will be looking to launch something at the back end of 2012.”
White also acknowledged that he has been surprised by the pace at which online footwear sales have developed, with the latest data from the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index showing that the value of the sector grew 16 per cent year-on-year in September alone.
“Buying footwear online differs with the one-size-fits-all approach to buying a book over the internet, but it has amazed me that this is no longer an issue for consumers,” he said.
“Women will perhaps order two or three pairs of boots and send two back.”
Click & collect is also fast becoming par for the course in terms of a retailer’s customer offering, and department store John Lewis recently invested a lot of money in expanding the number of pick-up points it operates around the UK.
In fact, potential to encourage click & collect and multichannel interaction is now a key factor in the retailer’s strategy when choosing locations for its new format stores, as shown by its recent decision to open smaller stores in Exeter and York with localised product mixes.
Some retailers however, have been slow to roll out such facilities, and White readily admits that Jones’ website is “not particularly zizzy” and primarily attracts customers looking for convenience, particularly men after the same pair of shoes time and time again.
Men’s plus-size clothing retailer High & Mighty is in a similar position, with Managing Director Gill Politis recently revealing to this publication that there are plenty of updates set to be introduced to her company’s website and mobile capabilities in the next two years.
“We’re obviously very aware of the move to m-commerce, and we’re pushing hard to introduce this as well,” she remarked.
“Many of our customers are professionals and they’re used to having the capacity to order online through their smartphones.
“This is a development definitely for the next 12-24 months, but possibly even sooner.”