New internet service being launched following rising popularity of online retail

Halfords hails multi-channel for driving profits

Halfords has reported a rise in profits – and an increase in multi-channel sales – in its half-yearly financials.

Online now accounts for 5.2 per cent of the retailer’s sales and multi-channel grew by a staggering 50 per cent for the retail chain. The firm also saw spend double by customers who research online and then buy in store – from £21 to £49.

The results, which covered the 26 weeks until October 2nd 2009, saw profits rise 1.7 per cent, thanks largely to the leisure sector (including Halfords’ cycle business) – offering further proof of cycling’s ability to perform despite trading in a recession.

Halfords’ David Wild explained to BikeBiz: “ is one of the 50 most visited online sites in the UK and we see it as a key area of development for our business, particularly within the cycle sector. Through it we can offer more choice. For instance, this autumn we launched 2,000 new bike parts online.”

While the rise of online is traditionally seen as a threat to physical retail in some quarters, Halfords was keen to stress that online complements its physical retail offering, most obviously with its Reserve and Collect service – which now represents 80 per cent of Halfords’ multi-channel activity and recently topped one million orders. To capitalise on the service, Halfords is set to launch a further, similar service – Order and Collect – where customers will be able to order product online and pick it up in stores that don’t stock the product. 80 per cent of online orders are now collected in store.

“Great customer service has always been at the heart of our success. Knowledgeable staff, expert advice, professional fitting services and after-sales support are supplied though a friendly and accessible store environment and an intuitive web interface.”

Halfords added that online is also providing a greater chance to connect with customers: “The web means we can serve our customers better – through product information, customer question and answers, video content and email.”

The importance of online to Halfords at the end of the decade could hardly be more different than ten years ago. The national retailer only launched its online store in 2000, which at the time had no bike presence.

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