Sheraz Ramzan, Chief Commercial Officer of Quiz, reveals why the womenswear retailer is investing in both physical stores and e-commerce.
Quiz is an omnichannel fashion brand known for selling formal wear and dressy casual wear, primarily to women between the ages of 18 and 35. The brand was founded in 1993, is headquartered in Glasgow and currently employs around 950 people.
Using our omnichannel model, we operate through a portfolio of 67 well-located stores in the UK and Ireland, the Quiz e-commerce website and through our third-party partners’ websites and physical stores.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken steps to protect the business so that the group emerges from the difficult trading period in a good position to benefit from the recovery in customer demand. This included rebalancing Quiz’s 70-store portfolio through a pre-pack administration deal in 2020, reducing it to around 60 locations with flexible leases.
We have also taken steps to reduce Quiz’s exposure to UK department stores: in the year to March 2022, the number of Quiz dealerships fell from 119 to 69. By making these changes, we have been able to place more emphasis on the company’s website and stores, which generates a higher level of profit for the group, while continuing to benefit from the increased visibility that the brand enjoys through third-party relationships in line. We believe this advanced omnichannel model offers significant long-term growth potential.
These changes supported a positive financial performance and sales gradually increased as social restrictions were lifted back to pre-Covid levels on a like-for-like basis. We are delighted with this strong recovery and look forward to maintaining this positive momentum over the current financial year.
In line with our omnichannel growth strategy, we aim to accelerate the growth of our online channels; grow the brand internationally with a focus on the Middle East and the United States through low-cap online, consignment and concession routes; and third, to strategically strengthen our physical presence in the UK by opening carefully targeted stores and concessions. We opened in Bracknell on September 17th and plan to open another store by the end of 2022 in Brighton.
Since the end of the Covid-19 restrictions, we have seen a resurgence in online and offline demand, as demand for formal wear for events such as weddings, shopping trips, holidays and parties has increased. increase. Like many others, we have seen strong improvements in online traffic and our new app has seen outstanding performance, leading to improvements in conversion rates. However, our success has not only been digital: following the pandemic, we have seen a strong recovery in our stores, as more customers have visited again. Online purchases account for 35% of total sales, while the remaining 65% comes from our own physical stores.
Stores and concessions remain an important part of our model and help differentiate Quiz from online pureplay competitors. Covid-19 has reset the physical retail landscape, in part by changing the expectations of retailers and owners. We took the opportunity to take a step back and examine our retail park, to ensure that it would be sustainable and fit for the future. Negotiating commercially sustainable leases has now given us increased confidence in our physical retail portfolio for the future. And now we see new opportunities to selectively invest in new locations across the UK, with a particular focus on the Midlands and South of England.
Although successful stores have a great halo effect on our online business, we know there is still a long way to go to establish a seamless connection between the two channels. For example, we are introducing more omnichannel functionality to our stores by increasing our in-store data capture. We will soon be offering same-day click-and-collect windows to enhance the experience for customers, however they want to shop with us. This is in addition to online order fulfillment from our in-store stock, which can enable same day delivery and create a much more efficient stock portfolio.
The Quiz app was redesigned last year and is the latest significant development in our omnichannel model. Since its launch, the app has exceeded our expectations with a huge increase in downloads and it was in the top 100 downloaded shopping apps on the Apple App Store in August 2022.
An effective omnichannel model is all about finding the right balance to maximize customer demand. Our model has proven itself: having multiple channels to reach the customer provides more flexibility and greater reach. But these channels must work effectively together and create more than the sum of their parts. Using technology to generate synergies and improve the customer experience is key to unlocking this. At Quiz, we believe we are making very good progress in optimizing our long-term growth model, ensuring that it is well balanced and meets customer demand in the new era of retail.