So, farewell then, BHS…again

So, farewell then, BHS…again

The scrapping of the resurrected BHS website shows UK department stores can only survive with an omnichannel sales approach, according to ParcelHero.

BHS collapsed in 2016. Just months afterwards a new UK website, BHS.com, rose from the ashes to focus on the department store’s key strengths of lighting, bedding etc. Now parent company, Al Manna, has decided to pull the plug on the site, which will close by 27th June. It will instead concentrate on the BHS international franchise business (stores are operating profitably in Europe and the Middle East).

ParcelHero says the move comes as no surprise, despite the fact BHS.com reported a 43% rise in sales earlier this year. Its Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks, comments: “BHS.com never really grabbed consumer’s awareness – and perhaps the BHS name is just too tarnished in the UK. Just the same happened to Woolworths here. After its collapse in 2009 a new website site promised to restore the wonder of Woolies online, but that too couldn’t stand alone, and its owners eventually merged it with Very. Former High Street brands' moves to online-only sales don’t seem to have a great success rate.”

The old BHS stores’ site, bhs.co.uk, cast a long shadow; it was very clunky, Jinks argues, and even took customers to a separate white label site that didn’t integrate at all well, for large items. “Worryingly for Debenhams and House of Fraser, they still use other retailers’ white label sites for some larger items – and the join is still pretty poor,” says Jinks.

“Debenhams large electrical products actually link to a Buy it Direct white label site – the company that used to run the old BHS large items’ site. In 2018, no matter how sales and logistics are structured behind the scenes, online shoppers should never notice the join.”

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