Footwear firm Hotter has harnessed digital and refocused its product offering under a new management team to boost business performance, its chief commercial officer told Drapers.
“2019 has been a year of transformation,” said CCO Victoria Betts. “We were getting to a point of sales stagnation and we need[ed] to grow the top line as well as bottom-line profitability.”
Following the appointment of Start-Rite’s Ian Watson as CEO in March, a main focus of the business has been digitalisation. The business’ ecommerce site will replatform in June 2020 to improve website speed.
Hotter has grown its email database by 35% year on year and revenue directly from emails has grown 50%. This is a result of an increased focus on email address acquisition across its 80 stores and behaviourally triggered emails.
“We’ve acknowledged that through digital a sale is the holy grail and ultimate target, but we don’t want to be focusing on ‘buy now’. It’s about getting them to engage with the brand,” Betts explains.
Online sales now account for 32% of the total business, and have grown 29% for the six-month period from March to the 31 October.
She also admitted that Hotter’s product development has “faltered over the last couple of years”. However, the appointment of Hobbs buying and merchandising director Claire Pearl as chief product officer in October has rejuvenated the brand’s design team.
“Arguably, because we’ve been around for a long time, there’s a lot of continuity purchases and we’ve lacked some of the innovation we ought to have had. When it comes to style the appointment of Claire is absolutely the big impetus to change,” said Betts.
Hotter has hired three new designers and is moving its model way from traditional seasonal designs to a more reactive model. This is partly being achieved through a partnership with customer analytics company First Insight, which gathers real-time customer preferences on design, pricing and product. As the brand transitions from a seasonal product buyer the tool allows Hotter to test product and increase speed to market.
“We’re trying to get closer to market and reduce our buyer from seasonal and serve her needs more regularly with frequency drops of newness so there is a reason to come back,” Betts explained.
The automisation of Hotter’s distribution centre in Skelmersdale, West Lancashire, will also improve delivery speed. At the end of November, a new automated picking and packing machine will reduce the process from 3 minutes to 13 seconds.