Bunnings boss touts digital progress

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Bunnings boss touts digital progress

Pandemic lessons in speed and agility.

The lessons learnt from launching new online services throughout the pandemic have made Bunnings a stronger competitor in the e-commerce space, says managing director Michael Schneider. 

During the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bunnings launched a full e-commerce offering in New Zealand in four weeks and a kerbside pick-up option for 250 Australian stores. 

Speaking during a virtual event hosted by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle on Friday, Schneider said the retailer had caught up to its competitors since rolling out its transactional e-commerce capability in 2019.   

“The quality of that service offer now… if we came from behind we're certainly matching our peers in terms of experience,” Schneider said. 

“Our aspirations in this space and our ongoing investments will allow us to move to technologies and platforms that make it even easier [to shop at Bunnings].” 

The retailer had traditionally focused on its bricks and mortar stores but declared its "whole business fully online" in its latest full year results

Bunnings ‎director of group HR & New Zealand Jacqui Coombes said an online transactional capability for New Zealand had been on the roadmap prior to the lockdown but was fast-tracked as the country went into lockdown.

Coombes said within 24 hours there was a plan in place and over the four-week lockdown the retailer developed an online offer that was “swamped with thousands and thousands of orders” on launch day. 

“It wasn't perfect,  but we had an online offer and we were able to transact with customers online which was just amazing,” Coombes said. 

“New Zealand [Bunnings] would have been in a very different position if we hadn't have been able to to get online up and running as quickly as we did.” 

During the COVID-19 period, the Bunnings Product Finder app was used to help customers navigate stores more quickly while its PowerPass app allowed tradies to check out on their phones, eliminating the need for contact with staff. 

Schneider said more than 200,000 businesses are using PowerPass and that Bunnings will launch its full online offer for tradies in 2021.

Digital transformation 

Schneider noted that the business is on a wider transformation journey, saying “it's not just about selling more products online, it's about enabling our team to communicate digitally and engage quickly.” 

“We are making really solid investments into technology to better support our people, whether it's rostering systems, payroll systems, or training systems that allow us to be more agile and more flexible," he said. 

Bunnings uses WorkPlace by Facebook as a communication channel, and used it to post videos and communications in support teams of teams, particularly in New Zealand and Victoria during the strictest lockdown periods. 

“We've done a lot of work on Workplace with supportive tools and resources for the team,”  Coombes said. 

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