BHS.com parent company Al Mana Group has decided to close the ex-department store’s website to focus on its “store-based businesses”.
The website was set up in the tail end of 2016, alongside the BHS International global franchise business, after Al Mana Group bought the British Home Store (BHS) brand following its collapse.
In a statement, a BHS company spokesperson said: “The 18 members of our BHS.com team, along with all suppliers, will be treated fairly and equitably as the website is closed down. We’d like to thank our team, suppliers and our customers for all their support over the past 20 months.”
The UK-based online retailer will close the website on 27 June 2018, and final deliveries will be made to customers by 5 July, despite reporting a significant rise in sales in the final quarter of 2017.
Original images advertising the website’s launch, stating “The comeback begins…” have now been replaced with the message “We’ve had a blast” as the website slashes prices to move stock before its closing date.
Many believe retailers will not be able to survive in the current climate with a purely online or purely offline experience, and must have a mixture of both.
Even Amazon, which spent years as a disruptive online only retailer, now has physical stores, and David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, claimed department stores need a balance between online and offline.
“Department stores need a balance of attractive ‘event shopping’ high street stores, and a great online presence that mirrors the experience,” he said. “Department stores can only survive with a multi-channel approach.”
Al Mana Group has claimed it will continue to expand and invest in BHS International and its franchise stores business, and is currently negotiating with several new partners.
But BHS is not the only high street retailer that has failed because it didn’t adapt quickly enough to technology-driven demands for omni-channel.
Many believe retailers should focus on developing a digital presence while adapting physical locations to deliver a space for consumer experiences.
Jinks used Woolworths as another example of a UK retailer which tried to recover from the collapse of its store estate by investing in a website, which then failed too.
“Former high street brands’ moves to online-only sales don’t seem to have a great success rate,” he said. “The old BHS stores’ site, BHS.co.uk, was very clunky – and even took you to a separate white label site that didn’t integrate at all well for large items. The new BHS.com site was a big improvement – but not good enough to stand alone.”
Though many retail brands struggle to adopt new technologies due to legacy infrastructure, some have taken a collaborative approach to delivering omni-channel through engaging with startups or integrating with third-party services.