Big Boohoo for M&S?

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We know things are tough on the high street. That hasn’t changed in a while.

Stores have been closing their doors left, right and centre.

It is heart-breaking for end users see some of their favourites wish us farewell.

But it’s a particularly sad day indeed to see it happening to a British institution.

Marks and Spencer (or M&S as it is known) – which is as much a part of the fabric of Britain as the Queen, the NHS, fish and chips and Ant & Dec – is planning to close 100 stores by 2022.

17 of them will close their doors imminently, putting over 1000 jobs at risk.

30 have already shut their doors, as consumer spending habits have made them implement serious restructuring plans.

Talks are underway with employees, with hopes of being able to retain as many staff members as possible. Almost 1900 workers have been impacted so far by store closure plans, though almost 1600 of those have already been redeployed to other roles.

But what do they hope to gain? And what impact has the reorganisation already had?

Keeping up with the times

The powers that be in M&S towers have said the radical reshaping is been undertaken in the hope of making the store more relevant to today’s consumers. And that the changes are vital to the company’s future.

And, despite additional falls in clothing and food sales over Christmas, early signs are ‘encouraging.’

It seems that those who like the emotive end user experience that M&S offers are willing to spend their hard-earned cash with them, even when the store closest to them has closed its doors.

Others are choosing to venture into the cyber world and shop on M&S.com.

So, perhaps things aren’t as bleak as they may have once seemed.

Because, let’s face it, we all know that online stores seem to be faring better than their high street counterparts in these difficult times.

No tears for Boohoo

We only need to look at the 24/7 fashion retailer Boohoo to prove the point here.

Whilst the likes of M&S are frantically paddling their canoe in the hope of staying afloat, Boohoo is one retailer that really is in fashion, in more ways than one!

Just to cross the t’s and dot the I’s to confirm that online shopping is the spending channel of choice for a growing majority, Boohoo saw extremely strong sales in the last four months of 2018.

The online fashion retailer targets the 16-30-year-old market with their clothing, shoes and accessories under their three labels (which include PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal, as well as Boohoo itself), so they instantly have an advantage.

Why?

Because 89% of younger people shop online, with 25-34-year-olds making an average of 11 purchases in a three-month period.

16-24-year-olds are also keen internet purchase consumers, who buy something online an average of 3 to 5 times in three months.

The likes of M&S, on the other hand, have historically targeted older generations: my Grandma shopped there for as long as I can remember.

Yes, Britons over the age of 65 are definitely getting more internet savvy but where’s the emotive end user experience if you can’t actually smell the lavender in your favourite hand soap when making a purchase?!

So, it will be interesting to see how they fare with increasing online sales to any meaningful level.

Boohoo, on the other hand, seemingly has nothing to fear. Revenues jumped 44% to £328.2m in the four-month period at the end of 2018.

PrettyLittleThing’s revenue nearly doubled, rising by 95% to £144.2m, while there was 74% growth in NastyGal’s revenue to £20.6m.

Oh, and they claim to have more than five million customers.

Nice work if you can get it.

Don’t rest on your laurels

Of course, there are no guarantees that the sky will continue to be the limit for Boohoo.

Yes, the retailer is very competitively placed to capitalise on the fact that shoppers tend to base their decision on price in these tough times, but they do face competition from rivals and they are not a new business anymore.

Growth tends to slow as a business matures.

Still, the rest of us mere mortals can learn some valuable lessons from both Boohoo and M&S.

As the longstanding high street store is proving, it’s important to embrace change and keep up with the times if you want to stay afloat.

Even if that means saying goodbye to things that worked for you historically.

As for taking a leaf out of Boohoo’s book… it’s important to know your market.

And use the appropriate channels to target customers.

As well as ensuring that you have effective, 24/7, customer feedback management systems in place.

Plus, Boohoo operates out of a warehouse in Burnley, Lancashire.

Keeping it Britain-based could prove very beneficial under the Brexit cloud.

(And, you’ll be relieved to hear that’s the only reference to the B word I’m going to make. We don’t want to be responsible for people taking to the bottle because you’re so sick of hearing about it!)

It’s a New Year. So, could it be time for a new you?

If you don’t know where to start, give us a call here at The Monachie Project.

We can help you understand your consumers.

Our end user experience monitoring and consulting can assist you in ensuring you take off in 2019 more like Boohoo, as opposed to M&S.

And, personally, I can’t think of a better footing to start the year off on!

 

 

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