Outdoor enthusiast retailer BCF has launched the first of its new breed of superstore, with customer experience and a wider range built into its Townsville store’s reopening. The store, which grew from 2700sqm to 5500sqm and holds 29,000 SKUs, offers customers the chance to touch and feel many products prior to purchase, and gives the business’ range specialists the means to show customers how each product will enhance their boating, camping, and fishing experience. BCF managing director Pau
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or Paul Bradshaw explained that, throughout the pandemic, BCF heard from customers that they wanted to be able to touch items and understand them prior to purchase: something that isn’t achieved easily online.
“They want our team members to explain what each item can do for them, and how they can improve whatever outdoor activity they’re doing,” Bradshaw told Inside Retail.
“Yes, we saw online penetration improve over the pandemic, but we’re seeing more of our customers head in-store again, and we want to help them.”
BCF general manager of operations Ben McConnell agreed, adding that the new store layout goes beyond just improving the range, also representing a modernisation of the BCF brand. It was prepared alongside The General Store, the retail agency that also helped Super Retail Group stablemate Rebel launch its RCX stores.
“We’ve taken a different approach to all the fittings and fixtures that we put into the store, and we’re really pleased with how it ended up: it still feels like the BCF you know and love, but just modernised,” McConnell told Inside Retail.
“It has better navigation, categories, signage, and amplification across the store. We’re really proud of it, and our customers seem to be rewarding us so far.”
Since the store relaunched on 12 November, customer NPS has increased “considerably”, Bradshaw said, and the store is bringing in new customers from across the Townsville area. And, while the store is the first of its kind, a second is already under way on the Sunshine Coast, with a third likely to launch before the end of calendar year 2023.
The new direction will evolve alongside the business’ wider expansion target of hitting 200 stores by 2027. BCF is expecting to end calendar 2022 with 151 stores.
Making the outdoors greener
The enhanced approach to physical retail signifies the biggest shakeup in the brand’s 17-year history, and its latest attempt to create a more modern outdoor retail experience.
“We’ve always invested in our stores and their evolution, but if you look back at some of our early designs, they’re quite dated,” McConnell said.
“I’m really glad that we’ve been able to evolve the brand, because I think it’s so important.”
The new store also steps up BCF’s focus on sustainability: featuring solar panels capable of generating 401 kilowatts of clean energy on the roof, as well as a commitment to “low impact cleaning products”.
Additionally, the Townsville store features artwork from local Waanyi artist Stephen Oliver Sailor, which reflects his belief that all people have a role to play in caring for the natural environment.
The artwork depicts the rainbow serpent roaming the land, rivers and oceans.
“We’ve really tried to work alongside and with that community, rather than just being something that ticked a box,” McConnell explained.
“We’ve started working with the local First Nations community to work on recruitment as well, and launched the store with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony.”
Super Retail soars into FY23
The Townsville store launch, which has been in the works for some time and took around 11 weeks of construction to deliver, comes after the wider Super Retail Group delivered a strong start to FY23.
Last month, the business stated that it had posted a 20 per cent like-for-like increase in sales in the first 16 weeks of the year, and that online sales now represented 10 per cent of these sales.
However, like many players in the retail industry, Super Retail Group CEO Anthony Heraghty said its first-half results would be largely dependent on strong Christmas sales, and that further changes to cost-of-living expenses were likely to impact spending next year.
Heraghty is confident, however, that the business’ focus on outdoor experiences will prove resilient as customers cut back on unnecessary spending.