Boots and B&Q jostle Apple’s lead in providing high street services, BookingBug analysis reveals

Boots and B&Q are biting at Apple’s heels in offering in-store services, which online retailers are unable to provide, according to analysis by BookingBug.

According to researchers, the study presents a growing divide between the retailers embracing this opportunity and the greater number falling behind.

The report assesses five key areas of in-store services: attitude, marketing, accessibility, expertise and delivery. The results clearly show most stores are accomplished when it comes to the experience of their employees — but this potential is being stunted by lack of execution across the other areas. Most notably, stores are hesitant to dedicate floor space to providing services that don’t match the legacy sales process.

Key findings:

  • Fashion scores weakest

For an industry with such a compelling reason to come in store, most top fashion retailers didn’t progress beyond casual assistance and fitting rooms. Personal shopping was the most common addition but rarely, if ever, was it advertised or available to schedule online or on mobile.

  • Majority of retailers still starting their omni-channel journey

Twelve out of the 20 retailers only had minimal or casual services on offer in store. Surprisingly, this included WH Smith, an operation with such a range of hobbies and interests in its arsenal that the opportunity to build services around them was immediately striking (and under exploited.)

  • ‘Ghost services’

Where offered, promotion of these services was often unexpectedly low, sending a message of unimportance to the customer – or worse, undermining the time invested in setting them up. Many were effectively relegated to the level of casual assistance, missing the opportunity to create a predictable schedule of demand and develop a memorable and differentiating feature.

  • Idle expertise

Most companies demonstrated their staff are knowledgeable, enthusiastic about their subject and able to offer relevant expertise. The opportunity to find new ways to create value from this asset in a structured way and spread demand more evenly across their hours shows clear first steps are just within reach.

In the report, Glenn Shoosmith, CEO and founder of BookingBug sums up his hopes for the project: “We hope, by returning to and repeating this study in years to come, we can map the evolution of this trend and highlight the best examples for others to learn from. These reports can become not only observational but instructional, providing commentary on best practice and case studies, and accelerate the progress for all.”

Retailers of all sizes are adopting offline services to create new sources of revenue and loyalty with customers:

  • Pets At Home runs successful pet nutrition sessions, marketed heavily and combined with discounts for attendees. Jessops Academy

  • Jessops Academy is a programme of photography lessons, available online

  • Waitrose Cookery School creates a new revenue stream alongside traditional retail

The full report includes five key insights and opportunities, alongside short case studies and the full data, mark scheme and methodology. It can be downloaded at

The league table


Apple Retail UK




Alliance Boots


Carphone Warehouse


Kingfisher (B&Q)


Marks & Spencer


Lloyds Pharmacy




Dixons Retail


Arcadia Group (Burton)




New Look Group


John Lewis Partnership




Sports Direct International


Cooperative Group


Home Retail Group (Argos)




WH Smith


TK Maxx