Retail stalwart Just Group continues to develop a reputation online as newcomer GASP Jeans presents its first e-commerce site, proving that despite stiff competition, the transition to multichannel doesn’t have to be painful.
There are examples of bricks-and-mortar retailers in every category suffering from performance issues in Australia. From David Jones to Dick Smith Electronics, symptoms of a widespread shopping malaise has appeared on our shores. Some seek to blame the GST threshold on imports, others blame online shopping in general.
Some retailers have realised that part of the issue is simply that they aren’t online, or that they aren’t handling their existing e-commerce opportunities correctly. The convenience and ever-improving security of the channel is drawing an increasing number of consumers, which in turn makes online nearly impossible to overlook as a retailer.
Following this trend, one of the latest retailers to release a fully-fledged e-commerce alternative is Australian fashion label GASP.
The online fashion business has already proved itself as a workable model, with businesses like Birdsnest, ModCloth and SurfStitch demonstrating the power of pureplay enterprises. However, other large players are beginning to appear on our shores from the US, brands like J.Crew with a large international following and a solid foundation in their home territory.
Therefore GASP is entering the online channel against established competitors, a situation that is much more ideal than it may sound at first.
GASP now has the potential to learn from the mistakes of those businesses that went before, bringing with it all the benefits that an established fashion label has to offer. The website offers an uncluttered, stripped-back feel, while still providing a complete user experience.
E-commerce specialists, Solutionists built the site to focus on a totally seamless feel, integrating inventory with point-of-sale software to afford the customer transparency when it comes to stock levels and clearance items. The site even offers a ‘Find in Store’ feature, which enables a shopper to see whether a particular item is available at a given location.
James Gilbert, Director of Solutionists, believes the key behind multichannel success is through providing true integration between on- and offline channels.
“Many retailers treat their web stores as standalone shops, where their customers are expecting an integrated experience,” Gilbert said. “If they can get in in store, whether ‘it’ is product, stock availability, customer services or loyalty schemes, they expect to get it online as well.”
With free shipping anywhere in Australia and the ability to ship just about anywhere internationally, GASP’s online offering could manage to do what its PR team couldn’t last year in raising the brand’s profile.
GASP isn’t alone either, as other clothing brands continue to eye off the online space hungrily, with Just Group’s Chief Executive, Mark McInnes aspiring to achieve 10 percent of total sales via online by 2015. Through offerings like the Dotti website, the company has increased online sales by 100 percent in the latest half and is positioned to continue in a similar vein.
These businesses are positioned to compete strongly in their local markets where they are already well known, but their ability to succeed in the face of adversity in the form of US and UK imports will be the deciding factor when it comes to offshore expansions.
For in-depth advice on how to expand your business overseas, see Power Retail’s Special Report #21: Growing Globally.