When it comes to UK department stores, British Home Stores (BHS) got lost somewhere between upmarket retailers such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis at one end, and Primark at the other. Finally shutting its doors for good in June 2016, following an ongoing struggle with debt and a pensions deficit of almost £600million, the 88-year-old retail chain simply failed to move with the market, lacking interest and innovation in its offering.
What is the key lesson we can learn from BHS?
In my humble opinion, it’s the importance of having a strong brand identity which supports and drives traffic to your website. BHS had very low traffic compared to its counterparts - up to 2 million unique visits to their online store each month vs. John Lewis’ 15 million and 81 million for Amazon.
One way to support this is to introduce a strong loyalty programme into the marketing mix. Loyalty programmes can help brands to build and strengthen brand identity, not only by proving a channel through which the brand can engage with customers, but also by creating a data source which helps to support and drive brand evolution.
Knowing your customer and how they like to buy is the best way to ensure they will continue to come back and buy from you.