Room for improvement: GlobalData issues WH Smith warning
WH Smith must improve its product, pricing strategy and shopping experience to revive its underperforming stationery category, according to GlobalData.
The retailer’s share of this market is set to decline by 1.8 percentage points to 10.5% in 2018. The discounters – B&M, Home Bargains, The Works and Poundland – are forecast to hold around an 11% combined share this year, up 2.4ppts from 2013. WH Smith, compared particularly to B&M and Home Bargains, is overpriced on branded products and does not offer value for money to its customers – for example, (at time of writing) a 10pk of Bic black ballpoint pens were available for £4.99 at WH Smith compared to £1.49 at B&M.
WH Smith has also been impacted by the rise in trendy stationery retailers. Smiggle’s entrance into the UK market has had a significant impact and alongside trend-led retailer, Paperchase, it now accounts for around 9% of the UK stationery market, up 4.7ppts on 2013.
Zoe Mills, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Both retailers have captured the imagination of their target audience, warranting higher price points with fashionable and innovative products. WH Smith, in comparison, has failed to justify its price points, resulting in many of its customers now unwilling to spend with the retailer.”
Furthermore, 88.1% of female shoppers surveyed by GlobalData stated that trendiness is important when choosing which stationery items to purchase. This factor rated ahead of price and quality. "In the past, WH Smith has produced on-trend ranges that have encouraged footfall to store. As a stockist of a Zoella-branded stationery range, it will encourage younger shoppers to its stores. However, it must look to expand upon this in 2018 to garner greater loyalty among these young consumers or risk shoppers losing interest,” concludes Mills.