Primark’s relationship with online shopping
As a company that has hand-waved away online shopping as unnecessary to its business model, Primark has finally relented in a small way with its recent launch of ‘Click and Collect’ for just 25 locations.
Primark notoriously operates on the cheapest end of the clothing market and so has previously maintained that online shopping “isn’t feasible” for its price point. Another explanation the retailer gave for not providing a delivery service is to “better connect the journey between searching online and then shopping in store”.
Throughout the 2010s, many shoppers were puzzled by the company’s stubbornness to embrace online shopping in its business model. Even during the pandemic years, when many retailers were bolstered by online shopping when brick and mortar outlets had to be shut under lockdown rules, Primark defended the need for in-person shopping despite suffering £1bn in lockdown losses, saying it has “no plans” to sell online.
In fact, the company is so serious about luring shoppers outside and away from their desktops, that they have also recently revealed plans to invest £140m over the next two years into renovating existing stores, increasing its selling space by more than 160,000 sq ft and creating at least 850 new jobs.
However, Wizz Selvey, the owner of retail consultancy Wizz and Co and the former head of buying at Selfridges, confirmed that having a multi-channel approach to commerce is “crucial” to surviving in today’s retail landscape. She also supposed that its roll out of Click and Collect could be the first phase for its entry into online shopping.
“It allows them to trial a selection of products and utilise the existing delivery to store capability rather than investing in additional delivery services,” she said. “This will help their teams understand demand and how the sales mix is different in store to online, before investing in allocating more stock to online and expanding delivery options.”
Selvey also believes that Click and Collect will encourage customers to visit stores – a prospect which Primark would be thrilled by – where they may make “additional” purchases and potentially try on online purchases in store. This approach would also mean that unwanted items can be returned quickly and reduce the time stock is out of the business, according to Selvey.
“I imagine this is just a ‘phase one’ approach, and a full online presence will eventually be launched,” she continued. “In order for Primark to compete with other fashion retailers, it’s important to offer a number of purchasing options to customers. It also allows customers to browse before they buy, and increase how often they may potentially interact with Primark as well as purchase.”
When Click and Collect did launch, it exceeded demand to the point where the website crashed on the first day, which could make a case for Primark’s untapped potential for profit.
Source: Retail Sector