Super Retail Group is the proud owner of four iconic brands: Supercheap Auto, rebel, BCF and Macpac, and is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest retailers. Our powerful brands have established, leading positions in growing high-involvement lifestyle categories of auto, sports and outdoor leisure.
We provide our customers and highly engaged active loyalty club members with the option to experience our brands whenever and however they choose – whether that’s through our network of stores or via our digital capabilities, which we continue to enhance. We run on one set of core values, and the underlying DNA of the business is that of one tribe.
As a group, we saw a strong demand for our products last year. When pandemic restrictions came in, we sold more gym equipment online in five weeks than we had in five years! With this growth in demand, our underlying net profit after tax rose 139% as reported in our FY21 half-year results. This included online sales growth of 87%. This increase in online volumes inevitably put pressure on our omni fulfilment and customer service operations.
During this time, we focused on listening to and proactively communicating to our customers. In particular, we leveraged social media and contacted a number of customers one-on-one about their order if it was late and what we were doing to do better.We also made the decision to refund the freight charged and provide partial to full product refunds to a number of customers who experienced delayed deliveries during the April & May
We appreciated that Australia Post increased their communication to customers during COVID. They implemented messages that told customers when a parcel had been collected, and gave them an estimated tracking time, which definitely helped alleviate some customer anxiety. Having that clear openness is very important, because things aren't always going to go right.
For the most part, we kept our stores trading to the public and fulfilling online orders. Usually, we'd have our warehouses and a couple of select sites processing most of the volume. However, as stock was in such demand, we leveraged the entire store network to fulfil deliveries. And we’ve been working with Australia Post to make sure we're aligned, so we don't fulfil from say, Sydney, when it would be quicker from Brisbane. We're working together on the network plan that will lead to a more customer centric and efficient outcome.
We had our best sales results ever last year, including strong growth during November’s Black Friday event. Black Friday online sales exceeded the busy COVID times during April and May. I believe this reflects customers being more comfortable buying online, and reflects Black Friday getting bigger and bigger every year.
Christmas saw another surge in demand. We knew people would have heightened emotions, because their orders involved gifts. We personally contacted every customer who ordered before the Christmas cut-off date but did not receive their parcel until after Christmas. We refunded any freight charged on these deliveries and we emailed these customers a complimentary gift card, so they still had a gift to share on Christmas Day.
Previously, there was a temptation to think that, once an order was picked, packed and with the courier, our job was done. Now we recognise that we have to own the full end-to-end experience. Customers expect us to be accountable and fix any problems that arise with their order. They want to know they're not just a number to us.
Following the pandemic, we continue to see customers having greater comfort with home delivery, and an increase in overall online demand. I’m proud of how our team came together during the COVID period and for the progress we have made in a short period of time. We are continuing to evolve our omni fulfilment capability and the focus on customer experience, safety and efficiency.