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Online and international expansion key for growth, says Fat Face ecommerce boss

Fat Face plans to significantly ramp up its online business to represent more than 20% of sales, as it moves closer to an imminent push into the US, according to the retailer’s head of ecommerce, marketing and customer service Paul Wright.

The lifestyle retailer previously reported an 11% rise in online sales in the 26 weeks to November 29 and ecommerce now accounts for 16% of overall sales, compared to 14% in 2013. But Wright has told Drapers he would like to see this moving to the “low twenties” in the next 12 months.

“We’re quite an ambitious company, but online sales exceeded our expectations, particularly as it was off the back of very strong numbers the year before,” he said.

A large part of this online boost is expected to come from the retailer’s planned expansion into the US.

In May last year, the business said it would set up a dedicated US website and open two to three shops on the east coast within 12 months. Wright said one of the retailer’s biggest challenges this year will be launching the website in new markets.

Wright told Drapers: “The demand [on the UK website] has impressed me it’s a great platform to springboard the brand into new territories. We obviously want to replicate the success of the business in the UK in new markets - the product, the brand, the customer service. But you have the added complexities of language translation, sales to tax ratios, currency conversions.”

Despite these complexities the US website is expected to be on track for an imminent launch later this spring.

Click-and-collect orders peaked at 42% during the second half of 2014, up 119% on 2013, and 65% of visits were on mobile devices, compared to 55% last year.

The retailer, which uses a responsive web design programme from NetSuite, is now focusing on driving consistency across all platforms. “We have to be consistent about how people shop and how easy they find it to shop. Embracing the fact that shoppers are shopping how they want - and online and in store are completely linked - is key to our future growth,” said Wright.

He added: “We have a wider range available online; how do we make that available to our customers’ in store? How do we humanise the website to ensure customers get the messaging they would get in our shops online? If they have a gift card can they pay with it in store and online? We have significant developments to our online offer to enhance the user experience, but on consistency there is still work to be done.”

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