Last month’s reveal of JB Hi-Fi and Super Retail Group sales and earnings forecasts for the first half of 2021 was gobsmacking for many in the retail business. JB Hi-Fi expects its profits to be up by 86.2 per cent with its appliance brand The Good Guys on track to deliver a knockout 142 per cent profit gain. Meanwhile, Super Retail Group expects group sales to be up 23 per cent with online sales seeing an 87 per cent lift. The business has performed so well that it’s paying back $1.7 millio
n in JobKeeper payments. So much for an economic downturn. The results are all the more astounding considering consumers have felt the uncertainty of Covid-19 and squirrelled away record amounts of savings — nearly twice the savings than the previous peak off the back of the GFC. The success of these two businesses is far from dumb luck. There’s a clear and definitive strategy behind them, and there are lessons for others including: Don’t turn your back on bricks-and-mortar While both JB Hi-Fi and Super Retail Group have seen a considerable uptick in online sales, the overall success has been across online and physical stores. Both contribute significantly to the seamless and merged shopping experience customers now expect. Even with mandatory mask-wearing in some states and increased hygiene measures, people continue to embrace physical retail outlets. In part, this is due to online purchase delivery times which, in recent months, took a beating, making click-and-collect the best way for customers to get their hands on purchases quickly. With Covid cases now mostly in hand across Australia, the desire to head in-store is increasing just as delivery times are improving, meaning shoppers want both options. Successful retail brands must cater to both. Maintain a clear, unambiguous brand voice and positioning Staying true to the brand and its expertise has served JB Hi-Fi well in recent years. Customers know JB for its distinct black and yellow branding and no-frills voice. And consumers know exactly what they are getting when they walk into a store or visit the brand’s website. This fuss-free experience looks effortless and delivers every time. The key lesson for other retailers here is to know your brand, what it stands for, what it can and can’t do, and be militant about maintaining these values at every business touchpoint. Remain focused on the benefits your brand offers your customers, and don’t stray into tempting non-core categories. Broaden your use of data and online communications channels When it comes to digital touchpoints, data is going to make all the difference. Indeed, it has for JB. The business implemented a new email marketing technology platform adding on to its existing website, which has allowed the company to implement tactics powered by a better understanding of its customers. You, too, can better personalise your customer communications and offers, and you don’t have to invest in an all-new email marketing platform. Start by assessing the data you already have on your customers. Is it siloed across different parts of the business? If so, consolidate it. Then start to dig into the information to see who your best customers are as well as the ones who haven’t spent with you for a while. Communicate offers with them that speak to their purchase history or explore how you can find new customers who look like the ones you already have. Stay in tune (or a step ahead) with the changing consumer The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour in dozens of ways that have benefitted retailers such as Super Retail Group. Brands within the portfolio including Supercheap Auto, BCF and MacPac have made substantial gains from an increase in local travel, while Rebel has helped kit out the active-wear inclined during lockdown (and no doubt in the months to come as many of us try to shed those Covid kilos). These external forces have had more significant impacts than ever, including the fact that people will part with their hard-earned and hard-saved money to spend on themselves during these unusual times. To make the most of the opportunities, keep a close eye on your consumers. Use the data you have on them to guide your business decisions such as product lines to promote or locations to open stores. Overall, what these two brands show us is that, especially in times of upheaval, we need to be ruthless about executing brilliantly.