What Wickes learned over lockdown

Quickfire Q&A: Digital levels the playing field, and customers have a mission, not a shopping list, says CMO Gary Kibble.

by Adam Gale

Home improvement giant Wickes could have stayed open during the first lockdown in 2020 as an essential retailer, but decided that closing was the right thing to do. Overnight, it had to become a digital business, chief marketing and digital officer Gary Kibble says.  

What were the operational challenges of going fully digital so quickly?

When the lockdown was announced, we closed our digital operation just for a day because we needed time to really understand how we were going to run this. There was a real war-room mentality for that 24-hour period.

Though we closed the stores to customers, we continued to run them effectively as fulfilment houses, with store colleagues picking, packing and dispatching all orders. Digital sales increased eight to tenfold. We had orders sitting on trolleys down the aisles, which we meant we could pick orders at a much faster pace.

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