Department store group House of Fraser has today unveiled a new concept store in Aberdeen, Scotland, which gives its online operation a physical presence for the first time.
The new 1,500 sq ft shop, which is a lot smaller than its traditional outlets and is situated in the city’s Union Square shopping centre, will not stock merchandise but will instead allow consumers to order goods online and have them delivered to their home or to the store.
House of Fraser says that the new concept allows the retailer to focus on the buy & collect proposition at a time when an increasing number of shoppers are keen to visit stores to collect any orders they have previously made.
The House of Fraser.com store represents the modern way of shopping, whereby all potential transaction points are blurred due to the consumer’s wish to conduct their research on various channels. A series of iPads, computers and interactive screens have been placed in the shop to facilitate transactions.
Lawrence Hutchings, UK Retail Managing Director of real estate firm Hammerson, which owns Union Square, said: “To have secured the first pure buy & collect concept store in the UK is not just important for the centre – it also has the potential to shake up the retail sector.
“Shopping is no longer a linear process and the majority of purchases are now informed by more than one channel as consumers increasingly spend more time online and increasingly prefer to collect in store, which drives footfall and additional sales for our retailers.”
House of Fraser’s multichannel business has grown significantly in the last 18 months, with recent financial statements indicating that online trading grew by more than 100 per cent in the six months to July 30th 2011.
This was driven by the successful redesign of the company’s website, which included the addition of hundreds of new product ranges.
Profits have also grown at the department store group, with margins boosted by the launch of a variety of in-house brands such as Biba and an exclusive Mary Portas label, both of which can be purchased at the new Aberdeen store.
Robin Terrell, Exec Director of Multichannel at House of Fraser, commented: “Aberdeen is a thriving city and we’re extremely excited to be returning there with our first House of Fraser.com store.
“This is an entirely new concept and the launch is a pivotal moment in the development of our multichannel business, which has seen online sales increase by 107 per cent in the first half of the year.”