Complete One investigate how department stores are fighting back against online competition

With a number of department stores becoming a casualty of online competition, event-marketing specialists, Complete One are investigating how they are fighting back.

2018 has been a traumatic year for the high street. Department stores are struggling to sustain profitable sales in the face of online competition and rising property costs. This has culminated in numerous firms going into administration and liquidation and the loss of 50,000 retail jobs.


On September 12th, the John Lewis Partnership announced a shock drop in profits, revealing they had plummeted 99% in the six months to 28th July.  Speaking about the shocking figure, chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield blamed Brexit uncertainty and squeezed profit margins. John Lewis isn’t an isolated case; Fenwick announced it was shedding 408 jobs after a 93% dip in pre-tax profits.  High street stalwart, House of Fraser is in the process of closing three of its 59 stores after being bought out of administration by Mike Ashley’s, Sports Direct. The takeover has saved at least 20 stores, safeguarding around 3,500 jobs.


Department stores once offered the convenience of a plethora of brands all under one roof; however, that is no longer a unique selling point in the world of online. Retailers, therefore, need to find a new USP to stand out and differentiate themselves to win customers back.


Harvey Nichols has identified an opportunity to turn shopping into an experience.  The luxury department store chain has placed emphasis on added value experiences such as its stylist service.  Complete One believes that creating a shopping experience is crucial to winning customers in a highly competitive market.


Despite the drastic drop in profits, John Lewis & Partners is keen to talk up its ability to differentiate, given 50% of its stock is own-label or exclusive lines. The department store is also offering a personal styling service in 15 shops across fashion and home. Some 20% of fashion sales growth at John Lewis’ Westfield White City store, for example, comes from the styling team. Showing the impact that service can offer on sales.


Complete One has viewed the demise of the high street with great interest.  The firm creates interactive and personalised marketing solutions that bring brands to life. They believe that human interaction is the key to creating memorable customer experiences and generating brand loyalty.


Managing Director, Glen Lowes argues that the effectiveness of human interactions should not be downplayed. “People buy from people. People crave conversation with a real human being. Through face to face promotions we are able to put a face to the brand of our client’s, answer questions, build relationships and instil consumer confidence,” stated the business owner.


The event-marketing experts are encouraged by the fight back and hope the retail sector can bounce back from a tumultuous year.




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