Mothercare, the baby clothes and toys retailer, has highlighted the success of its website as a central factor behind strong sales growth.
Sales at the Direct in Home site, which was developed with IT services firm Accenture, leapt 107 percent after last year’s acquisition of the Early Learning Centre chain. Even without the added revenues from ELC, on a comparable basis Direct in Home sales climbed 19.7 percent.
Full year group sales grew 31.7 percent following the ELC acquisition.
Mothercare sells clothing, buggies and accessories on its Direct in Home website, and sister website Gurgle.com offers social networking and advice for parents. Gurgle.com has been an additional driver of web traffic to the Direct in Home site.
In February, outdoor activity retailer Fat Face similarly cited the importance of social networking to driving its own web sales.
Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon said that the multi-channel strategy had “performed well, particularly Direct in Home”. He was quoted in the Financial Times as commenting: “It’s sort of the internet behaving as we all thought it might in 1999.”
Tight stock control also played a part in the results, Mothercare said. This followed further work with Accenture on systems.
Gordon has long touted the importance of IT to Mothercare’s growth, after the company admitted in previous years that it had underspent on new systems.
Mothercare, which also has 494 stores, uses IBM System i servers, Coda financial software and Cognos business intelligence tools, as well as a warehouse management application from Manhattan Associates.