NURSERY AND CHILDCARE retailer Mothercare Ireland is preparing a major revamp of its e-commerce offering as it grapples with declining footfall in physical stores.
The Irish franchise, which operates separately to the UK business, will roll out a new-look website in 2020 and is investing hundreds of thousands of euro to improve how its back-end systems manage stock.
Speaking to Fora, Mothercare Ireland’s commercial director, Ben Ward – whose father established the franchise here in 1992 – said this will give the retailer the scope to provide a better online experience and introduce new services.
“We’ve had the same basic proposition as a front-end for the last six or seven years. It’s very much a Band-Aid solution at this stage,” Ward said.
As well as providing an easier-to-navigate website, the company will launch additional services for customers including a reserve-and-collect option, in addition to its existing click-and-collect service and installed payment plans via Adyen-Klarna.
“It’s removing barriers where people might not have purchased from us online and I think it’s us offering as good a proposition as we can,” Ward said.
The revamp will be completed by the end of January 2020 when the new year sales have ended.
Mothercare, which sells a range of products including clothing, toys and nursery furniture across 14 locations, has recorded a 6% decline in annual footfall. Ward said there is still value in running bricks-and-mortar outlets.
“You need them because people still like to come in and get advice, they still like to come in and touch and feel the product. For a lot parents, all these hundreds of new products, you’re looking at them for the first time,” he said, noting that the Irish franchise has provided in-store demos and personal shopping services for several years.
Due to the changing retail landscape, Mothercare is looking to migrate from city-centre locations and into out-of-town retail parks.
Earlier this year, it opened a 6,000 sq ft store in Galway’s Wellpark Retail Park after closing its Eyre Square Shopping Centre branch.
“Retail parks is the best format for us in terms of parking for the customer and being able to arrange everything under one roof as opposed to city-centre locations,” Ward said.
Though there are no new leases being actively negotiated, Mothercare Ireland is open to new locations “providing the demographics and the commercials are right”.
BY CONOR MCMAHON