End of an era at Shop Direct

RETAILER Shop Direct has signalled the end of an era by ending production of home shopping catalogues.

The Liverpool business, previously known as Littlewoods, has produced catalogues for more than 80 years and has made the decision based on its customers’ changing shopping patterns.

Chief executive Alex Baldock said: “This is a big step in Shop Direct’s transformation and importantly, it’s one that’s been led by our customers. They’ve embraced online at a phenomenal pace – this is where they’re browsing and where they’re buying.”

Shop Direct, which owns department store brands including Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, has already dramatically cut down the number of catalogues it produces. Last season it sent out less than 300,000, compared with more than five million five years ago.

Its shoppers are increasingly browsing and buying on its websites. Online now accounts for more than 90% of sales, more than half of which are made on a mobile device, and its websites receive over one million visits per day.

The move to end catalogue production comes two years after Shop Direct began its strategy to transform itself into a world class digital retailer.

It says stopping investment in catalogues means that Shop Direct can invest more to give its customers a world class digital experience.

The retailer has already reaped the rewards from the investment it has made in cutting edge technology and customer analytics over the past two years. It posted a 512% jump in profits in its last financial year.

Baldock said: “We want to spend in areas that really matter to our customer. We know they want a slick, easy online experience and they want it tailored for them. We’re going to give them what they want.  Now that we’ve fully committed to digital, we’re determined to make ours the best website in the world.”

Shop Direct has already won plaudits for its websites this year, taking home the pureplay etailer of the year award at both the Retail Week Awards and the Drapers Digital Awards.