Bonmarche to focus on ecommerce conversion as profits grow

Bonmarche has announced encouraging annual profit growth, and revealed it is making a number of investments in its ecommerce and digital customer experience offer.

Women’s clothing retailer Bonmarche plans to introduce a fully responsive website next month, as part of a range of digital improvements that also includes an upgrade to its site’s search and navigation functionality.

The business said in December last year that moves to improve its website had been delayed due to the acquisition of its ecommerce partner Venda, by NetSuite, but it now appears that improvements are set to take place.

Preliminary results statement for the 12 months to 28 March 2015, which showed that revenue was up 8.7 per cent year on year to £178.6 million and profit before tax rose 55.3 per cent to £12.4 million, Bonmarche revealed it will be working with tech firm Attraqt to boost its visual merchandising, site search and online product recommendations.

Bonmarche will use Attraqt’s Freestyle Merchandising platform, which is also used by Ben Sherman, Fat Face and Warehouse.

Investment in ecommerce and technology comes as non-store sales at Bonmarche reached £13.3 million last year, up from £9.7 million one year before. These sales include call centre, catalogue and online revenue, but the website is the leading non-store channel and now represents 7.4 per cent of the retailer’s total sales mix.

Beth Butterwick, chief executive of Bonmarche, said, “One of the most striking changes that we have observed in customer behaviour has been the increase in use of tablet devices, particularly for research, and to a lesser extent, smartphones.

“Traffic reaching the website via tablets now accounts for 38 per cent of all traffic and represents 32 per cent of our online sales mix, a 75 per cent increase on last year. Sales transacted using desktop or laptop computers have declined by 20 per cent, and, whilst relatively small, sales transacted via mobile devices have increased to 6 per cent of total online sales.”