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Obviously, we're big believers in ecommerce at Econsultancy, and we would advise any retailer to start selling online, if they aren't already doing so, but one big name still doesn't see the virtues of online retail: Primark. 

I've written in the past about retailers that have shied away from online retail, and most of these retailers have since taken the plunge. 

Not Primark though, and it seems the retailer has no immediate plans to sell online. Indeed, its most recent trading statement (pdf) makes no mention of the internet at all. 

So, is Primark missing out as other fashion retailers grow their online sales, or is its business model somehow less suited to the internet? 

Why Primark isn't selling online

Whether Primark is right not to sell online, there's no denying its success. This is one high street retailer that is prospering during rough economic circumstances. 

The stats tell the story: 

  • In the six months to the beginning of March 2013, its sales were up 24%. 
  • In the same period, sales rose to £2bn. 
  • Operating profits increased by 56% to £238m. Like-for-like sales rose 7%.


These figures mean that Primark doesn't necessarily need to be in a hurry to open up an ecommerce site, as it still has room for growth offline. 

However, there will come a point when it has no more room for expansion and this, in combination with the switch to online shopping, is likely to force its hand. 

What are the drawbacks for ecommerce, from Primark's perspective? 

Primark's business has the kind of low margin, high volume model that is similar to Amazon's in some ways, so surely there is scope for an online retail operation. Or is there? 

According to Depesh Mandalia, the margins may be too low for ecommerce: 

Basically it comes down to the shipping process. There is a substantial cost difference between shipping pallets to stores vs picking individual customer orders and breaking up large pallets, and the storage and distribution challenge of fragmentation from a warehouse viewpoint.

The costs associated with this would probably leave them with a negative margin so whilst there is the Amazon effect of becoming market leader at cost of profitability, perhaps Primark just cannot survive like that.

It may also be the case that Primark's current plans just don't have any room for ecommerce. Its current strategy stands in stark contrast to those of the digitally-savvy, multichannel retailers like John Lewis or TopShop. 

If this were Woolworths or Republic, we might be criticising them for failing to adapt to digital, but the company's sales figures and growth provide the perfect riposte to such criticisms. 

Primark is doing extremely well on the high street and, while online has ultimately played a part in the demise of entertainment brands like HMV, it has a fairly unique high street offering, fashionable clothing, which is cheap enough that customers needn't worry about durability. 

Its current plan is to continue to grow its high street presence and to this end, it has opened 15 new stores in Europe (including four in the UK) over the past six months, bringing its total to 257. 

It has also worked to increase its total shopfloor space, upgrading its stores in Newcastle and Manchester. 

Primark Newcastle

According to retail consultant Graham Soult

While the high-street business is thriving and growing, Primark can make a convincing case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it". Many of the existing UK stores would still benefit from expansion and refurbishment, and Primark sees ample scope for adding overseas space too. Against this backdrop, going online could be a dangerous and costly distraction.

On the other hand, there would certainly be a market for Primark selling online. Even now, there are parts of the country where the nearest Primark store is quite some distance away. Selling online can also be an effective and lower-cost way to enter new markets overseas.

The danger is that by refusing to embrace online now, Primark risks becoming the Morrisons of fashion retail. When the meteoric success of Primark’s high-street operation starts to flag – as surely it must at some point – it may end up having to enter online retail from a position of necessity rather than strength.

For the moment, it remains very much an offline retailer, but can this continue? 

Should Primark be moving online? 

It may be doing nicely right now, but does that mean Primark can ignore the internet for long? 

According to Heikki Haldre, CEO and founder of Fits.me, it can't do so forever: 

In my opinion, Primark must move online. Its prices are so low that it is among the very few retailers that do not have to worry about costly returns. For a customer, returning an item is simply more of a hassle than to bear the cost of keeping it. Online, when optimised out of the warehouse, will have tenfold higher per-square-foot sales figure compared to any of Primark’s stores.

So what are the opportunities online for Primark? 

According to stats from Experian Hitwise, Primark, despite not selling online (and having a pretty uninspiring website) is still 66th in share of web visits in the fashion category, with more traffic than brands like Burton, Gap, and Accessorize. 

This may not be much, but it does show some potential, as do Google Trends stats: 

Searches for the Primark brand are growing over time, and are often higher than for rival retailers H&M, and much more so than TK Maxx. This suggests there is an appetite for a Primark ecommerce site among web users. 

What do you think? Is Primark right to stay offline? Is it missing a massive online opportunity? Or is it merely delaying the inevitable? 

Graham Charlton

Published 1 May, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

One odd question is: how many sales do they *lose* by not being online? It's a tough one to answer. They don't really have any direct competitors, and the types of shopping experience there are pretty strange. (worth wandering round one looking at how people shop if you have not before - there are the usual shoppers, but then there are some who treat it a bit like ikea, some like a sandwich shop - very interesting)

I think 2 categories where they might gain extra sales are:

1) Rural buyers & those whose daily habits never take them within 25 minutes range of a store.
2) Teenagers.

Among their 'core' audiences, I'm not sure they'd pick up a whole lot of extra sales, and wonder whether a boilerplate ecommerce website would actually 'lose' them store sales.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.

about 3 years ago

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Niklas Vaittinen

Good question, and while I'd personally think they are missing out, I tried to think of few reasons why they have decided to take this route:

1 - Their current strategy is store based. One reason, among others, might be that as they are committed to grow their high street retail (and store space), they have their concentration firmly on that expansion route as it stands.

2 - While Primark could increase its revenues through e-commerce, looking at the parent company (Associated British Foods), and the corporate strategy as a whole, it is possible that Primark's potential expansion to online is not on the top of their list!

3 - (debatable, but here we go...) I believe products with higher perceived value, with a shopping experience provided alongside, see more potential in e-commerce. Primark is the "McDonalds" of the clothing retail: it's faster (grab-and-go), lower quality, and there to serve a specific need (rather than a relaxing evening at a dinner restaurant!). Even though there was a valid point on the lower return rate, it is also important to remember that their margins are also lower than many of the competitors. Online competition is extremely populated as well, and on high street they've been able to stand out from the rest by being the cheapest fashion retailer.

In addition to launching e-commerce, you need to add technical support, customer support, online marketing (e.g. SEO, PPC, Social Media) and of course analytics and conversions... They might also put their high street stores at risk by diversifying. (Btw, a good example of opposite movement is Amazon's current evaluation plans of going to high street!)

4) In addition, would be interesting to know the share of Primark's purchases that are done for almost immediate need/use in mind ("I'm buying this top because it's cheap and it fits with the jeans I want to wear at tonight's party")

5) Not to compare them as like-for-like, but neither is Poundland offering e-commerce! And they have almost 65,000 FB fans, mostly shelf (rather than fresh or frozen) products, surely there would be some potential there too... But just like Primark, their commercial strategy (and I'd say advertising strategy too!) differs from their higher-value product proposition competitors.

about 3 years ago

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Michael Townsend

I can see the debate from both sides. Going online and having to add a customer service element to handle calls & inquiries for someone wanting to return a £3 pair of flip flops may not be cost effective.

However, I think the popularity of the ‘throw-away-fashion’ element at Primark could see lots of repeat sales for low cost items that customers go through regularly – basic shoes, tops etc between £2-£8 . Customers know what they are getting and know what they want - so re-ordering online without having to drive to their nearest store would become a natural behaviour for regular customers.

about 3 years ago

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Frank Walter

Not mad... small basket values will make profitability a challenge for them online. They can join the digital party whenever they want - the Daily Mail launched their site long after all the other papers. Now, Mail Online is trouncing the competition. When they do start, they will be unconstrained by the legacy issues other retailers face.

about 3 years ago

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Steph Fox, E-commerce Manager at Cassandra Goad

I think for the time being they are wise to steer clear as the logistics/execution could be a struggle for their business model - H&M don't seem to have got this quite right with their e-commerce experience and it can be very damaging to the brand. In the long run, however, I'd see it as a wise move. E-commerce could provide a much better experience for customers who can't be bothered with the hassle of their increasingly large and busy stores, provided they can get the crucial practicalities right.

about 3 years ago

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Gav

I think Primark are quite right not to play in the online space. As well as the other reasons as mentioned above with regard to costs and focus, you need to think about Primark's specific model.

They turn over stock so rapidly, and update lines so often, that to update their website would be costly and in many ways ineffective. By the time it's done, the item would be selling out in store.

In addition, let's think about the customer, they pop into Primark for a £3 t shirt and walk out with £30 worth of clothes. The in store experience is much more conducive to making a quick decision about buying not only the item you went for (who doesn't hold it up against your body?) but also a much more impulsive sell, and buying many more items than they "wanted". To expose the average in store customer to the number and variation of SKU's that an online customer is exposed to would result in a cluttered and messy online experience.

about 3 years ago

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Dave C

agree with Frank completely - not mad at all - perhaps a company who seem to have a true understanding of their brand and purpose and hence it's permeating (as it should) every aspect of their strategy and execution. It mean seem old fashioned but there is still the question where do I excel Product, Service, Value....? From what I can gather from my 17 year old daughter they've nailed value....so yes John Lewis have an eviable on line presence but I'd suggest their core value proposition is profoundly different and hence execution changes with it? I may be wrong but its more Lidl and Aldi thinking which aim to provide the customer experience in accordance with their brand - hence they too have very limited internet capabilities? Suspect that they've embraced digitalization within their supply chain and operational processes to drive down costs rather than, at the minute, the online shopping element.

about 3 years ago

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Dave C

Was going to add...! not just frank's comments but practically all econsultancy member responses seem to say the same thing....which is nice to know that we're not all mad online only junkies :-)

about 3 years ago

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Gayatri Gadre

While I agree that going online would be adding to overheads while decreasing the profit, Primark can still think of e-commerce as a way to complement their high street sales. It is not about being online when there is no need, but more about being ready when the time requires them to be there. Maybe they can come up with a 'Order online, pickup in store model' similar to 'Boots', which will drive more people to their stores where their high street shops are out of bounds and still saving time for customers having to wander in crowded shops and queuing up for hours for the trial rooms. In that case they wouldn't face any storage & distribution challenge or having to setup call center to exchange £3 pair of flip flops.
They can also come up with dedicated trial rooms for customers ordering online and picking up in store. This will not only save time for customers and give an experience too.
Not to mention once a customer walks in to a store (though to pick up stuff purchased online), I bet they wont walk away without flipping through some of the in-store shelves, boosting their sale even further. ;)
Win-win for all.

about 3 years ago

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Martin O'Toole

There are obvious arguments for and against at the moment. Evidently, they consider the bulk shipping issue to be the largest stumbling block. However, I have to agree: isn't it likely that they would drive an increase in sales by introducing ecommerce - thus gaining new customers that they currently do not have?

I think Heikki Haldre (Fits.me) made a highly poignant point: Primark would be one of the few major online disposable fashion e-tailers, to benefit from their low price point in respect of returns. As someone else has already pointed out - would you go through the rigmorole of returning items under £10? It's less likely.

I think it would be foolish not to begin working on an online presence during this successful period of the business. The old adage "make hay while the sun shines" springs to mind...

about 3 years ago

Simon West

Simon West, Chairman at Nett Sales LLP

If they are going to go on line, they would need to do so in a way that breaks the current rules, their high street stores are a different experience to anything else, so their on line presence should be too.

Maybe the way forward for them is through a third party tie up that uses the current trend toward crowd sourcing...

Encourage current customers to become "personal shoppers" who will go & buy what you want from the store and post it to you, a combination of supermarket home delivery with ebay style small vendors doing the shopping, despatch and handling returns. Primark could offer these small vendors access to slightly lower prices and fast-track returns.

Then deliver the whole thing only through a mobile platform, completely bypassing destktop.

They could even do the whole thing as a CSR initiative, encouraging young entrepreneurs to run their own on line businesses...

about 3 years ago

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John Griffiths

Graham Charlton's headline reminded me that some people say madness is a short step away from genius – I don't think so in the case of Primark.
They are missing a trick (look at the meteoric success of ASDA’s online presence and recent extension into the mobile channel - arguably they have similar target consumer segments to Primark) and they are missing the point, as are some of the other comments.

Ecommerce is just one element of a Digital Business Strategy – if looked at in isolation it can just become an overhead or at best a costly me-too offering, just jumping on the eBand Wagon. Successful multiple retailers currently riding the digital wave have re-imagined their business in this brave new world – for it’s here to stay. Consumers are embracing digital passionately and they are discovering the power over the Retailer to carry around a store in their pocket. It won’t be long before a copy-cat digital Primark business model type will rise and outpace Primark expansion if it’s not too careful.
Being a low-margin business is not a good excuse for missing the digital train, and if all retailers agree that online delivery is still expensive, then ‘click and collect’ is definitely something Primark should consider. Reimagining your business through Digital eyes means you explore all facets and dependencies from a digital-consumer perspective end to end – ensuring that the complete consumer experience is simple, engaging, and most of all, fulfilling, leaving them wanting more. Being a low price low margin business does not preclude succeeding with a digital business strategy – indeed it is one of the reasons why they should, (Morrisons have just woken up to the fact and may indeed leapfrog their competitors if a potential alignment with Ocado comes off). So come on Primark – get Digital and reimagine your business!

about 3 years ago

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John Griffiths, PA Consulting Group

... as a postscript, Elizabeth Fournier of City A.M. commented that "... until shoppers stop streaming through its double doors, Primark is best weathering the high street storm than paddling further out to sea." Surely not? These are prime engaged Primark-consumers, all with a fast growing digital appetite. What's holding Primark back? Perhaps they're afraid of being digitally price-matched too easily?

about 3 years ago

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Michael Burke

Primark isn't online because it doesn't need to be. It has a great market on the high street, selling cheap (tacky - let's be honest) clothing half the price of many other retailers who have online services. Most of their shoppers are women, teenage girls who enjoy the experience of shopping there. Moving online wouldn't increase their profits, I think it would just add to their overheads.

about 3 years ago

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Nathan Levi

I can't see a good reason for Primark to move online. Most low margin businesses struggle in this arena (see grocery), and Primark would be taking a significant loss on their online business for years with little or no guarantee that it would ever make money. It might also compromise their offline business. Primark is a 'go to' store on the high street for many, they probably do not want to compromise this. The only way this could work for them is a 'click-to-collect' only offering.

about 3 years ago

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Phil S

I would agree that the figures prove they don’t need a full ecommerce experience in its most traditional sense (yet!) and they must have done the business modelling on the pros and cons to support this decision. You can’t be a high street brand and not notice other big established brands falling over due to lack of planned change management. I personally think this puts Primark in a very strong position to try something different as mentioned by a few others. Mobile commerce must show a clear path to engagement and more importantly loyalty for the millennial audience.

about 3 years ago

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Jon Simmonds

A great question and some really fascinating debate going on.

As someone who would always recommend eCommerce as an absolute must-have, this conversation has caused me to re-think. Primark's model is such a stack it high, sell it cheap, impulse buy that I tend to agree with everyone who's made the point about customers going in for a £3 pair of flip-flops and coming out with £30 of other goods to go with them. I tend to think that wouldn't happen on a Primark eStore.

Conversely though, having occasionally visited the Oxford Street store at the behest of my Better Half, the experience was so horrific that I, for one, would still prefer to eschew the sharp-elbowed scrum for the benefit of shopping from my own sofa. I'd gladly pay the delivery costs to avoid the mayhem and abject stress. And with some clever merchandising, Id be willing to bet that Primark could still get the incremental up-sell.

It will be interesting to see where they go with this tactic.

about 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

A great talking point!

I'm with those who say Primark are right to stay offline.

Jon above (sorry Jon!)

> I'd gladly pay the delivery costs to avoid the mayhem and abject stress.

That's because Primark customers are not like you Jon (or me)! Physical shopping is fun for them, and often a social activity with friends. And nice to know prices are keen, so a little impulse buying is OK.

Primark have got product value down to a tee - well done!

about 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Here's a new thought

Do Primark embarass some marketers? : received marketing wisdom says to sell the sizzle not the steak, and hence often says to aim to be a up-market/quality brand.

But when the actual manufacturing cost of an item is swamped by sales and marketing... it's a shock to see Primark can make profits on much smaller marketing spend / low product prices!

about 3 years ago

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Tim Denison

Just shows that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. They are still a relatively new player and are successfully growing their business through expansion on the high street. This is where they are investing and a low margin business like this only has so much to invest at any point in time. Setting up an omnichannel business is more costly than some imagine – you don’t get anything for free. It may well be that about the time Primark decides to move on-line that on-line strategies have moved on and the business model changes, (e.g. partnering with non-retail distribution specialists) so they might be missing out a step now in the evolutionary path (and saving the cost) only to jump ahead of the game in the future.

about 3 years ago

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Orbiss Ltd, Orbiss Ltd

With the growth of the internet and peoples spending habits I think they are missing a trick by not being online.

Dan Barker makes a very valid point, they are missing out on those sales.

I will admit I often like to visit a Primark to see what's on offer, often I won't find much however will some time find the odd gem.

What's the problem with me not just visiting a shop? Well the nearest Primark to me is 77 miles away, so it is rare I actually get the chance to go in one and have a look around.

I like many shoppers now would much rather order their shopping on the internet. With the cost of fuel going up and up I am loathed to get in my car and drive to the nearest half decent shopping town (even that isn't overly great) and look for clothes etc I actually like.

about 3 years ago

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Rob McWhirter

From The Drum, 12/02/13

'Speaking at the Metapack Delivery Conference last week, supply chain director Martin White said: “We know the market is out there but [at the moment] it’s a very easy way to lose a lot of money very quickly.
“If we start online now we won’t be able to control it. We’d go from zero to 80 million units in the first year. How do you get that large scale right from the off?”'

about 3 years ago

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Joshua Geake

It's probably the only trend Primark has ever set.

about 3 years ago

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Richard Bloomfield

Just a response to comments about the items being so low cost that the profit margin would be next to nothing once shipping, returns and other web costs were factored in... I wonder if the solution would be to set a minimum order value. I'm sure many people would be happy to order 5 pairs of jeans and 10 t-shirts to meet a minimum order and if the odd item is damaged then most people won't bother with the hassle of returning it.
Having said this + their successful business model, I tend to agree with those who say Primark are right to stay offline (or at least not sell online).

about 3 years ago

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Becs Rivett

Having previously worked for an online clothing retailer the costs associated with even just getting the photography done as phenomenal and given that they buy small-ish quantities with high turnover, it would certainly be biting into their margins considerably.

Not only that but a retailer like Primark would be expected to have free returns - if they didn't (like the company I worked for) they would constantly be having to defend their stance on not offering free returns and I really think this affects their reputation. The thing we most often got returns for was sizing and quality - on the sizing front I find Primark very inconsistent with their sizing due to lower standards of quality control (2 sizes 10 jeans tend to fit very differently). In terms of quality - a photograph can make the appearance of a garment look very different (because obviously the company wants to show it off at its best) so this can also cause high return rates due to it not being the quality they expected

about 3 years ago

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Michael Stewart

I'm of the mind that a great deal of the Primark shopping experience is the voyage of discovery that takes place when you enter the store.

I also believe that whilst some people will go to Primark with a specific purchase in mind the upsell in impulse buys that takes place as a consequence of wandering round the store is a really difficult one to replicate - I'm not sure anyone can do that online effectively.

So it may be that by driving people online they harm sales.

We know that multi-channel retailers like click-and-collect as those shoppers come in-store and also buy other goods.

I'm sure there are smart people at Primark working out whether to do it and considering many of the points above.

about 3 years ago

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Jennifer Macrae

I would recommend Primark consider a click and collect model (only for now) thus satisfying the search demands of their consumers, making it more accessible and queue - busting for those in store.
Perhaps consider extending collection points through Collect+ for rural areas.
Either way, this still reduces their concern over shipping costs and ultimately gives the consumer what they desire, where and when they want it.

about 3 years ago

Seema Kumari

Seema Kumari, Head of Digital Marketing at Hearst Magazines

Primark are DEFINITELY missing a trick and are mad to ignore ecommerce. Primark is no different to other retailers (other than having a slightly lower price per product-of which-isn't as cheap as it use to be!)

As a Primark fan (yes I admit it) I would absolutely love for them to have a website. If their average basket value is anything like their store, then they have nothing to worry about. Plus if topshop can charge £3.99 postage so can Primark. I personally think a Primark ecommerce store would be amazingly successful, drive new audiences and help drive more revenue from existing customers. Consumers want the ease to shop online and the expansion of their high street stores should be an indicator of the potential online revenue Primark could earn. Not to mention the google trends graph which speaks volumes...

Regarding the high turnaround of stock - If someone like asos can manage adding 1500 new lines a week, I'm sure Primark could cope if it had the right structure and processes in place. if Primark decides to open an ecommerce store I suggest charging for delivery on orders under £50 and pushing the click and collect model as many have pointed out.

Come on Primark! If you're reporting an increase in profits in this dying high street imagine your profits if your trading online as well! Huge huge missed opportunity....

about 3 years ago

Russell O'Sullivan

Russell O'Sullivan, Snr Digital Marketing Manager at Legal & General

A great debate being had on here and I have followed it closely since I saw this post... There are pro's and con's for both sides of the argument and I still believe that Primark is focusing on high st bricks and mortar expansion and making sure that it capitalises on growth areas in this channel - being as profitable against its small margin as it can in a trusted channel.

If you have ever entered one of these stores, I would say (IMO) that they focus strongly on AOV as a few have mentioned here already, pop in for a £5 pair of shorts, end up with sun glasses, couple of t-shirts and lord forbid a onsie, having spent about £25 in total!

If we transfer this ability to increase AOV to such a scale to any online retailer - I personally think that Primark (or any other ecommerce retailer) would corner a very large chunk of the market. We have all seen how many tactics are employed by current online retailers to try and make us part with more money during the sales cycle, I would argue that none are as successful as Primarks offline tactics - in their ability to make us spend sometimes 400% than we "thought" we were prepared to spend... and I know its not comparable to a point, but maybe its Primarks bold move to concentrate all its efforts on the high st over online, that will see one of the UKs high st stores no going to the wall!

Focus on whats working, scale up and crank it more - whether thats online or offline - then and only then, when happy that you have reached your optimal performance, should you look to expand into new channels!
Cheers

about 3 years ago

Russell O'Sullivan

Russell O'Sullivan, Snr Digital Marketing Manager at Legal & General

Re: Seema Kumari - Primark is NOT comparable with Asos - Asos offer concessions for the brands they offer... Primark do not!

about 3 years ago

Seema Kumari

Seema Kumari, Head of Digital Marketing at Hearst Magazines

Russell, I am fully aware Primark is not asos, my point was that if a brand like asos can turnaround 1500 new lines a week then this shouldn't be a barrier for Primark.

about 3 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Russell: I used to work on a site that was a little like that. 'average lines per order' was one of our focus areas. We came across lots of odd, interesting things too, eg - for their products in particular - improving the usability of the on-site search function actually reduced revenue.

about 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Dan

> improving the usability of the on-site search function actually reduced revenue.

Ouch!

But please, any one reading this thread, don't take Dan's anecdotal one-off evidence as an excuse to have poor search usability on your site !!

about 3 years ago

Russell O'Sullivan

Russell O'Sullivan, Snr Digital Marketing Manager at Legal & General

Re: Dan - really... I love oddities like that in ecommerce, adding in some broken functionality to help the customer makes you less revenue...

I worked on a site similar to that, its usability was so awful for its target market customer, that I wondered how on earth they had such a high conversion rate... on some digging, 68% of its customers used its search function, straight to product page, add to basket and away they went - simple steps, but the AOV was constant over 24 months, no matter what tactics they employed....

Think we should do a post on - 10 ecommerce mistakes to increase revenue*

*May frustrate the hell out of your customers though!

about 3 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

@Deri - yes - I suppose the lesson there is 'do a little bit of analysis on the effects of changes, even when you're implementing "no brainer" positive stuff".

@Russell - I like that idea. For maximum shareability I think I'd go for the title "When Worst Practice Works - 10 Anomalous Ecommerce Failwins"

about 3 years ago

Russell O'Sullivan

Russell O'Sullivan, Snr Digital Marketing Manager at Legal & General

Let me contact @econsultancy - surely this is one they could gather quickly!

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@ Russell - great idea, send me your examples !

about 3 years ago

Suzy Turnbull

Suzy Turnbull, Owner at Digital Marketing Partners Panama

Interesting conversation about Primark and whether or not they should have an online store ....I hope I am not too late to join the conversation ... well, maybe I am but I hope I am excused :-)

Some time back, I had this same debate with a very close friend who has worked closely with Primark for some years. At that time, I was on the side of being heavily in favor of them joining their competitors in the fast moving world of e-commerce. He was not.

But, I must confess that several years down the road and in a hugely different digital world and with a better understanding of their particular business model, I am now with the NO's - ie: to them jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon.

They have low cost, low end of the market, throw-away products with very small margins. They have invested in high street locations and a logistics operation to supply those stores. What they rely on is footfall and plenty of it, pure and simple, to do exactly what everyone has already identified in terms of purchasing behavior.

They are doing a great job with Social Media - Facebook 567,000 followers; Pinterest; Twitter (no so big on this platform) and as long as they are driving customers to their stores, why on earth would they want to invest in a hugely expensive e-commerce platform, delivery and return mechanism and everything other headache that goes with it when their business model is working perfectly well thank you?!

My only recommendation to Primark would be to update their website, give the design a complete makeover, improve site usability and integrate the social experiences of their customers in-store, with their website and social platforms. Their target audience would love it!

almost 3 years ago

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mariose aloha, MZgroup at MZ

I am happy to found interesting post. I really increase my knowledge after read your post which will be beneficial for me.

over 2 years ago

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