In the Middle of a Chain Reaction…

So, as reported by Brand Republic, Primark ‘has put out a tender for a digital agency to build its first ecommerce site, as it looks to tap into the growth in online retail. The site is expected to go live in 2012.’…However, the brand itself is not confirming this.
Point 1: Really?..! Let’s just take a minute here. As a company involved in retail since 1969 we fear they may have missed the boat in terms of the real glory days of the growth of online retail…they could have been riding the wave some years ago if they’d really got under the skin of online, and we’re surprised they’ve not already cashed in on this..But then I guess they’ve been busy building their 200 + stores…which contrary to other retailers do appear to be turning over huge profits.
So, as a brand, they are coming to the party late in the day when most of their competitors already have a strong online presence, a clear digital strategy and an online audience. But can Primark step up and take a significant share… or should they just keep their head down and pretend they were never interested in generating online sales anyway?
Well, with such a strong brand, and a huge global audience they should absolutely be getting involved. Whilst they’re making mega bucks, they could be making mega mega bucks, and reaching millions more consumers who buy into the brand but don’t necessarily relish the accompanying in-store experience…
This could be a real opportunity for Primark, not that they seem to be particularly excited about it, but done right their online market could catapult them into even further heights within the global retail market.
Point 2: What’s your plan, Stan? If Primark are now to suddenly launch into e-commerce is this a strategic move or one they feel they simply can no longer hide from? Is it simply a chain reaction and peer group pressure or can they genuinely produce real projections of what online could do for their business?
Done wrong, or done with no clear online business strategy this could well be a very expensive disaster. Primark sell cheap. Therefore Primark need to sell in huge volumes. Yes this can be achieved online, of course, but many factors need to be considered with regards to the user’s online shopping experience, and why they would buy something online that could potentially cost them more on postage than the item itself…
Still today so many retailers launch themselves online with no clear digital business strategy. We hear ‘We want to increase our markets, we want to service our customers online, we want to sell globally’…Well yes, but how, why, what does success mean, what do the numbers need to look like? What steps will take you there? What will your audience love about your online offer? What will your digital brand look and feel like?
We’re sure that Primark will end up outsourcing to a digital agency, who can help them answer all these questions but this should act as a wake up call to all other retailers out there who are coasting online. Would you let any other elements of your business take a ‘suck it and see’ approach? We think not.
We regularly come across retailers still stuck in the eighties, a simple time before e-commerce was a feasible consideration. The irony is that the brands who could have been leap years ahead are still not, even after being handed on a plate technology to help them double, triple, quadruple their bottom lines.
Point 3: It’s still there for the taking. The thing to remember is that there’s still opportunity galore online. Like anything else in business you just need to get a plan, then make it happen…
Giving your online division the chance to stand on its own two feet is where the secret lies. We’ve seen this many times over. If Primark simply views an e-commerce site as an add-on to its core in-store business it will fail. However, if it is identified as a business in its own right it could be a very powerful beast.
By appreciating that whilst the two elements need to be 100% integrated, the customer’s expectations in the different environments will differ, they will ensure they have a clear strategy for both audiences.
Whilst most traditional business plans now incorporate online elements, it’s only when the online brand is given its own legs, and true accountability, when amazing things start to happen.
Targets are pushed higher. ROI expectations become more demanding. Opportunities for growth present themselves more clearly. Given its own identity the online side of the business becomes a business in its own right. It becomes accountable, it’s seen that it can clearly be profitable and it gets allocated its own resources. As a result, guess what? It flourishes. Surprise surprise…
Point 4: Plan to be different. Whatever your online business plan turns out to be, whether it’s modest or ambitious, revolutionary or mainstream, just make sure it’s different. Not different weird, just different individual.
Please don’t just do what everyone else is doing. What is the point in that? Get a plan that excites you and crack on with delivering on it. We promise you’ll be excited by the results.
Plan to be different, do it…We dare you.