The fall of BHS and their ecommerce store

British Home Store (BHS) seems to be falling into administration at the risk of over 11,000 jobs. The retail company has been making a loss for the past seven years.

In this blog we will take a look at BHS’s:

  • Ecommerce strategy
  • Customer fulfillment, and
  • Demographic

One thing to think about is whether their ecommerce store had anything to play in their downfall, or whether they could’ve used their online store to rectify their problems.

Back in 2010, econsultancy shared their views on how BHS could improve their online store.  They mentioned the site having poor user experience. This was shown through the way they split the website into three different sites. It often meant customers were redirected to another site to make a purchase, which is confusing and is likely to deter some customers from buying a product.

It also meant BHS was not able to offer in-store collection for a large portion of its product range.

BHS ecommerce strategy

Whilst we don’t know the full ecommerce strategy, we do know some things about the way BHS operated and how they compared to their competitors.

First of all, traffic.

BHS had considerably low traffic compared to its counterparts. Each month they saw up to 2 million unique visits to the store.

This is compared to up to 15 million for John Lewis and a massive 81 million for Amazon.

So, why was their traffic so low in comparison?

First of all, we might question why anyone would use BHS’s website. It is not clear who or what they are, or what they were trying to do. This means it would be difficult to compete with the likes of John Lewis who are excellent at telling brand stories with their Christmas adverts that don’t even feature their products.

John Lewis also makes effective use of omnichannel efforts.

Customer fulfillment

BHS couldn’t compete with other online retailers like ASOS because it failed to fulfill the customer.

Customers were complaining their online experience didn’t mirror the one they had in store in regards to returns and buying a product. Having an online presence isn’t enough if you cannot deliver on what you’re supposed to.

Demographic

Its core demographic are people who aren’t tech savvy – so the online experience needed to be perfect and first rate.

However, this simply wasn’t the case. BHS perhaps didn’t have a good enough user experience for the ones who were visiting their site and didn’t have a site savvy enough for the customers they should be trying to attract.

The aim of any store is to try and grasp what their customers want and providing that to them in the most efficient way.

 

For department stores to survive online, they need not do anything too radical, but simply offer the things their customers want to buy and make it easy for them to do so online.

The store should be an extension of the website and it’s not clear that BHS understood that concept, or utilised it in any way.

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