N Brown: From catalogue to convenience – building an online empire

JD Williams instagram @jdwfashion

With its triumphant conversion from a catalogue to a digital retailer, the N Brown group provides a blueprint for success in a struggling mid-market, underlining how a customer-focused, agile proposition is increasingly the differentiator for success.

As it prepares to release its full-year results, we unpick some of their key strategies that underline the group’s success.


Reflect your customers, and engage them regularly 

For most plus-size customers, finding a brand that not only flatters their body but is also stylish and affordable is like finding a needle in a haystack. Here comes the strength of the N Brown Group – with its plus-size focused Simply Be and Jacamo brands.

Through the use of real size and mature models across product and marketing in its power brands, N Brown reflects its target consumer, engages them and taps into wider-macro-movements of body positivity and inclusivity.

Extra efforts are made on the JD Williams site, offering easy-to-follow style advice based on body types and a personalised quiz.

In addition, alongside home and lifestyle products, JD Williams offers a balanced assortment (apparel holds 54.6% of the new-in mix, footwear 19.9% and accessories 25.5%) and cross-sells it seamlessly through editorials and style guides. Through its recently launched ‘lifestore’ concept, JD Williams in particular has focused on building destination appeal through an engaging lifestyle-driven format. Through a double whammy of targeted product and strong lifestyle appeal, JD Williams drives conversion online more effectively than other, more established peers (Barometer shows JD Williams has an average online conversion of 26.8% compared to M&S at 21.2%).


Hand it to them on a plate

It’s no secret that convenience is the key to the top for any online retailer, however, for an older audience this is even more important. The JD Williams website tackles this in three ways.

Firstly, the site is an easy to navigate, one stop shop with few icons to click through; perfectly suited to less tech-savvy shoppers.

Secondly, payments are made shopper friendly – offered on a buy now pay later scheme with their Lifestyle accounts. And lastly, but most importantly, their fulfilment offer matches up to online leaders ASOS and Boohoo with initiatives such as £9.95 next day delivery, Sunday deliveries and free click and collects, ensuring convenience for shoppers.

For digital success, the journey between browsing, purchasing and returning needs to run seamlessly; deliver to their door, surprise customers with efficiency and offer payment solutions that fit into their lifestyles in order to drive repeat custom – and N Brown’s convenience driven approach has been vital to their transition.


Liked this? Read WGSN Insight’s US: Plus Size Women’s Retail Strategies report.


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