Good business is good business – online as well as off With just six shopping days left, High Street retailers are already forecasting their worst Christmas for 25 years, while online retailers are bragging that it’s going to be the best on record.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think the two facts might be related.
There have been several profit warnings from major retail chains in the run-up to Christmas, most from those without significant investment in e-commerce.
John Lewis is not one of them. It is having a record year, both on and offline. Despite the current trend its store sales are up 8.4 per cent year-on-year, and its online sales are forecast to exceed #100 million this year.
I don’t know about you, but I think these two facts might also be related.
Good business is good business, online as well as off, and it might just be that John Lewis has simply got their products and prices right, whichever channel they sell them through.
But I suspect there is a much-overlooked symbiosis between on and offline operations that most retailers are missing. Many shoppers research online, yet go to the store to make the actual purchase.
Bad websites affect offline purchasing too.
Woolworths, one retailer already forecasting poor results this year, hasn’t quite mastered this symbiosis.
For a few hours on Friday, all LCD TVs were offered on its site for #150 – the going rate for a Sharp 42" LCD TV is around #1,500.
The news spread fast, with many opportunists bulk-ordering dozens of TVs at a time. It has been estimated that more than 1,000 TVs were sold at the unintentionally discounted rate.
Woolies say it is not going to honour these sales – so much for their Christmas cheer.
The terms and conditions on their website state that they will contact customers within 24 hours if a pricing or order error occurs and they will not commit to deliver at advertised prices within this period – thus dispelling the urban myth that web pricing mistakes have to be honoured by law.
It seems we British are always looking for an online bargain and spend more than any other country in Europe on the internet.
E-commerce pioneer Amazon is one of many online retailers having a bumper Christmas this year.
Monday was Amazon’s biggest delivery day ever, when 600,000 gifts, seven a second, zoomed out of its Slough warehouse, a rate that it expects to sustain for the final stretch into Christmas.
Particularly popular this year is its new line of sex toys!
Amazon has long been much more than just a bookstore, but its expansion into the bedroom has gone mostly unnoticed. The Ann Summers-type products started appearing in the toys and games section of the site just a few weeks ago.
Some products have always sold well via mail order – I can’t think why – and Amazon is on to a winner.
* Chris is managing director of internet consultancy WAA WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at webxpress.com. E-mail email@example.com