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Hubo Belgium puts speed and user experience first in 2021

2020: the year of Covid-19, and also the year in which we all started doing chores more often than ever. A phenomenon that Marc Henkens, E-commerce Manager of Hubo Belgium fully confirms. Whether we can continue to expect the same trend in 2021 remains to be seen. Yet Hubo has clear intentions for 2021.

Paint material flew out the door. The lack of travel prompted us to buy inflatable Jacuzzis, patio heaters and fire baskets en masse.

Renewed website and express delivery

This year, Hubo will be putting the finishing touches to their updated website, which will mainly receive a technical upgrade. In addition to more flexibility, more products and an accelerated user experience, it will be the mobile user, in particular, who will notice an effective difference during online shopping.

Mobile first is how a webshop should behave in 2021, and at Hubo we like to take that into account.

In addition to these new features, Hubo will also be rolling out express delivery. The first lockdown was the reason for this and immediately resulted in the first test run. Hubo is the only company on the market that does not have a warehouse, but where home delivery is always done directly by the supplier. During the first lockdown, the pressure on suppliers unfortunately led to delays in deliveries to customers.

Due to the closure of the shops, online orders increased drastically, up to 20,000 orders per week. An increase that had a major impact on the stock of many suppliers and manufacturers.

And that in spite of the fact that the shelves in the shops were full. Within two weeks, Hubo changed course and adapted their website in such a way that delivery from the shop was possible. As a result, this service has been offered in some shops since the beginning of February. By keeping the delivery in their own hands, the limits that suppliers face are removed and Hubo retains full control, which in return allows them to guarantee next-day delivery, and in the future, even delivery in the evening or on a Sunday.

Focus on online marketing

Hubo has an enormous database (+ 1.4 mio) of e-mail addresses, which allows them to continue to focus on efficient and targeted e-mail marketing. The large open ratio and click-through rate of their mail campaigns encourage this.

 

Also, other applications are applied. Google Adwords, sales through Social media like Whatsapp or Instagram, … are closely monitored and investigated within Hubo.

Challenge: logistics and sourcing

A few more shop openings are planned for 2021 and the new shop concept for professionals will continue to be expanded. Assortment management remains key. The limited floor space in the shop means a limited assortment. A larger online offer is therefore the goal. So, 2021 will also be the start of the longtail range.

 

A challenge that Marc foresees is logistics. Hubo is still a growing company. Until 5 years ago, most of their products were still bought via a distributor, but thanks to their growth, they are now buying more and more from the producer. The producer, however, is buying more and more from China, which means that Hubo is also obliged to buy goods from China.

 

Longtail, delivered directly from China to your home, is practically unfeasible. But shorttail sales are also experiencing difficulties because producers cannot meet the rising demand for products. A phenomenon that was not limited to Belgium, causing a worldwide shortage of transport containers and a drastic increase in import prices.

The company that is best able to organise itself in terms of logistics will emerge as the winner.

To what extent all this will affect Hubo’s logistics remains to be seen. They hope that this situation will not force them to develop their own warehouses. What is certain is that China’s middle class is growing ever stronger, which means that China will no longer be able to continue producing for the entire world. The question remains as to who will take on this role in the future and whether some of the production will even return to Europe. So, there are many uncertainties and major challenges when it comes to logistics and sourcing.

A year and employees to remember

Marc also wishes to emphasise that the people behind Hubo should certainly be thanked. The workload is significantly higher during Covid-19. The goods that come in are already gone before they have been properly put in the shop, which means that the rotation of products for the employees is much higher. Furthermore, Hubo had to cope with limited recruitment capacity last year and their click & collect system also required extra preparation on the part of the staff.

 

Despite the social distance and facemasks, our employees manage to stay close to the people. And Hubo is, rightfully, very proud of that.

Author: Hubo, 16 feb 2021