Woolies makes an online comeback

Following the collapse of the iconic retailer in December 2008, Shop Direct bought the brand and has now relaunched Woolworths as an online retailer. Katie Roberts spoke to the team to find out more?
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The problems experienced by a struggling Woolworths in its last months of trading may leave some wondering why any firm would choose to revive the brand.

The demise of the retail giant left a gap in the High Street that has since reportedly been filled, in the toy market at least, by independents and supermarkets. But Shop Direct believes there is room still in the industry for a comeback.

Matthew Jacques, head of brand for Woolworths.co.uk explains: “The Woolworths brand engenders huge affection amongst the British public and we believe the brand can be reinvented online. Reviving brands is what Shop Direct does.”

While much of the product offering on the new site is similar to that which we would have found in a Woolworths shop, the business plan has been vastly updated.

Firstly the retailer will remain entirely online, where statistics show consumers are spending more and more time shopping.

Jacques continues: “Being online only also allows us to offer a wider range of products, for example, half a million entertainment lines, bulkier items such as outdoor trampolines that you could not stock in store.”

Secondly, the firm says it is focusing on being a source of fun, playful ideas for a family audience. Products stocked will include toys, games, DVDs, anything for a party and children’s clothing, including the evergreen Ladybird brand.

Ad agency The Brooklyn Brothers worked alongside Shop Direct right from the purchase of the brand to develop the branding, tone, logo and all communications.

Glue later teamed up with The Brooklyn Brothers to communicate with around one million consumers using the blog, twitter, blogger outreach and Facebook fan pages to find out what they wanted from the new Woolworths.

Jacques enthuses: “Since February, we have received over 500,000 visits to the Woolworths blog. We also have 5,283 Facebook friends and 2,352 Twitter friends. Judging by this phenomenal interest in the brand re-launch, we are expecting a high volume of visits.”

Early figures show that one million people logged on in the website’s first week of trading and so far, it seems that this audience is made up mostly of families.

Jacques says: “We’ve identified that families with kids under ten are three times as likely as the rest of the population to shop at our new webstore. It doesn’t have to be the perfect 2.4 variety either, in fact we see family as those people who you spend more time with than apart.”

Shop Direct believes that the audience and the product offering mark out a unique position in the market. Jacques again: “Because of the breadth of product that we will offer for sale, it is difficult to identify one single competitor.”

The toy offering on Woolworths.co.uk covers all main sectors. Andrea Gornall, senior toy buyer comments “We’ll have a massive range with over 3,000 different products planned for the autumn/winter period, ranging from Crayola crayons at £1.30 up to a £3,000 wooden play centre, with next day delivery on most lines.”

The portfolio will include all the leading licences and brands. The toy team are hoping to keep the offering fresh and competitive. Gornall continues: “We’re constantly monitoring our prices against our competitors and we aim to give our customers the best possible service available.

“As we develop our offer, we will look to develop further exciting opportunities for exclusive product.”

The team will continue to market the brand with a range of innovative strategies aimed at both the child and parent audience. Woolworths.co.uk has partnered with Digital Cinemas to provide free Movies for Famlies every Saturday morning.

Families simply register as a Very Important Family on the site to be eligible for the promotion. A 60-second Woolworths.co.uk film, Training Day, will be shown in the ‘gold spot’ before each screening – an unashamedly bright and optimistic ad featuring all the Woolies products in training to come back and play. The film is intended to capture the excitement and anticipation for both an adult and child audience.

Alongside this, The Brooklyn Brothers created a film for the site that can be personalised and allows the Very Important Families to invite more families to join the club.

Glue is also now running the Woolies HQ on the main site, giving insight into what the retailer is up to, the latest promotions, activities and a forum for opinions and views.

Vizeum booked all media and will continue to work with The Brooklyn Brothers to plan activity going forward. Golden Goose PR and Brunswick are looking after the consumer and corporate PR for Woolworths.co.uk respectively.



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