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Shop Direct seeks boost through personalised credit and payment options

Shop Direct is investing £50m into a new personalisation programme for its financial services business as part of its ambition to become “the most relevant retailer”.

Chief executive Alex Baldock told Drapers this morning that the move will bring personalisation to the financial services side of the business “just as we are doing in retail”.

He said the etailer offers a portfolio of financial services options, such as interest free options like its Take 3 offer that allows customers to split the cost of their shopping over three-months, ‘buy now and pay later’ to receive the goods immediately but pay 12 months later, as well as more conventional credit systems that work like a credit card.

“A customer can choose which financial services option she wants just as she can choose which dress she wants but we know that the easier and more relevant you make it for customers, the more she will tend to buy,” he said.

“We need to put the most relevant payment option in front of the customer the first time so that she associates Very or Shop Direct with the retailer that knows her the best. It’s about 360-degree personalisation.”

He added Shop Direct would be a big participant in Black Friday this year, after the success of its two-week promotional extravaganza this year.

“Lots of people are talking about Black Friday like it is a damp squib but it certainly isn’t for us. Black Friday is a great fit for Shop Direct and Very and we’ve worked out how to put great deals in front of our customer in a way that is profitable for us.”

He said one of the reasons it works well for the etailer is because it is a private company so can take “a long term view on profitability”.

“We gained a lot of new customers through Black Friday and we place a high premium on new customers.

“Plus, as we are a retailer and a lender, it gives us two bites of the cherry when it comes to being profitable.”

Shop Direct revealed that sales for the seven weeks up to December 26 increased 6% year-on-year, with clothing and footwear sales also up 6%.

Baldock declined to give any specific figures for its premium and luxury site Very Exclusive but said it is “well ahead of targets”.

“We don’t expect to democratise luxury fashion overnight, but it is our ambition to democratise that area,” he said.

Very Exclusive added 30 new brands for autumn 15 including LK Bennett, Alexander Wang, Kenzo, Versace, Paul Smith and Whistles. More will be added for spring 16 but Baldock would not reveal any names.

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