UPDATE ON ACTIVITIES 2019/20
Products that offer choice, value, quality and style
Our commitment to customers includes product range improvements that meet their choice, value, quality and style criteria. During the year we refreshed approximately 10% of our product range, including designs and prints exclusive to Dunelm. We also developed ranges with more recyclable content and from more sustainable sources. During the Covid-19 crisis, people’s homes adapted to become offices, gyms, restaurants and communication hubs. Our customers invested more time on DIY projects, learning new skills and upcycling. Our products and ‘how to’ guides played an important role during this period and we will continue to focus on these ‘home essentials’ based on our customer insight.
Services that help – from inspiration to delivery to fitting
Enhancing our online customer experience
In October 2019 we launched our new digital platform which allowed us to provide a more user-friendly browsing and shopping experience on our website, and better delivery options to improve customer choice and convenience. This major investment in digital resource proved critical during the Covid-19 crisis, allowing us to continue to serve our customers and generate revenue. Planned improvements to browsing and transaction speeds were fast-tracked during this time, enabled by the agility and empowerment of colleagues – particularly our Digital team.
Expanding customer services
We developed new customer services to keep our customers safe as they returned to our stores, and more convenient options for those staying at home. We introduced clear in-store social distancing and hygiene measures, and a contactless store-to-car service for Click & Collect orders. We trialled and rolled out interactive video technology, allowing customers to access personal shopping and personalised advice on made-to-measure curtains and blinds without leaving their homes.
Developing store formats
In 2019/20 we continued to develop our store formats and in-store concepts to inspire our customers. As well as refitting six of our older stores in our latest formats, at the end of May 2020 we opened a smaller-sized edit high street store in Crawley, which has dedicated Live, Sleep, Eat and Work/Do zones and gives customers access to interactive and augmented reality technology. We are monitoring sales and footfall to evaluate future roll out opportunities.
Experiences that are friendly, local, helpful and build relationships
Building local relationships
During the Covid-19 crisis our colleagues set up 173 Facebook groups in their communities and these evolved organically. At the outset, our colleagues used social media to help organise local initiatives to help the NHS, care homes and support vulnerable individuals – involving over 7,000 customer volunteers; then to understand local customer and colleague sentiment about re-opening stores. These groups are now thriving communities which balance the activity between community – generating great conversations with our customers and colleagues – and commerce, where we talk about our products, offers and offer local customer care. This instant connection between colleagues and customers is building stronger emotional ties and more meaningful awareness of the Dunelm brand in our communities. We now have over 152,000 social media followers on our community groups, growing organically by around 5,000 followers every week. We aim to appoint colleague ambassadors as trusted voices, empowering them to run community networks more formally.
Understanding our local audiences
We also learned that our customers want a personalised, authentic experience with communication that relates directly to them and the rhythm of their home. For these reasons we are focusing on creating and hosting local events with meaning in the community, working with faces and names people know and trust. This will also allow us to represent the social and ethnic diversity in our local communities more accurately and meaningfully.
Fundraising and charities
Although earlier in the year we were on track to raise a record sum for our chosen charities, unfortunately, some of our regular fundraising activities – such as the donation of proceeds from plastic bag sales and cups of tea in our Pausa cafes to Macmillan Cancer Support and Groundwork – were negatively impacted by store closures. However, we continued to support our Group charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support, through remote colleague fundraising and live events on our community groups, and we have agreed to make an additional corporate donation to Macmillan Cancer Support of £105,000 to make up the shortfall. As mentioned above, our colleagues looked for other opportunities to ‘give back’ to their communities – making over 40,000 personal protection equipment items for the NHS and supporting local hospitals, care homes and schools with hampers and essential items. We will place greater emphasis on local community-based charitable activities in the future.