In comparing Australian retail sites against their international counterparts, Chris Morley reveals a distinct paucity in local offerings this Easter.
Religious holidays are an interesting thing in modern day Australian society.
People aren’t going to church in the numbers that they have in previous years and – generally speaking – Australians aren’t as religious as our USA brothers and sisters (who, after all, have ‘In God We Trust’ on their bank notes). So when Easter rolls around each year and we get ready for Good Friday and Easter Monday holidays, as well as the store closures that go along with Good Friday, you would imagine the same happening across the Pacific – not so.
Good Friday isn’t a Federal public holiday in the US, with only 13 states making it a state holiday. Easter Monday also is not a Federal public Holiday. So, how are these very different nations merchandising online during this period?
Toys are becoming an increasingly popular gift for children on Easter weekend. Parents and families are moving away from the traditional gift of chocolate – toys, books and games are beginning to be gifted more often, which prompts me to think: how is the major toys retailer, Toys’R’Us embracing Easter online?
On the homepage things start out pretty well. The Easter activity pack and a countdown to Easter are featured on the front page as part of their rotating banner. Countdowns are great as they can induce a sense of urgency in a shopper. But upon clicking through to their Easter promotion I become a little disappointed, to be honest. Toys’R’Us provide a downloadable activity pack only. I download the five page pack, a little underwhelmed (this is a good start, but where are products? This is Easter after all, and I need gifts for the kids!).
The US version of Toys’R’Us offers a homepage that features an extremely similar link to its ‘Easter Shop’. However, this is a permanent link and not part of a rotating carousel. Here, the US brand is doing a ’35 percent off’ sale as well.
Pressing through to the Easter link and I’m rewarded with the same activity pack as in the Australian website, however this one is presented better alongside actual products and specific Easter offerings. This is where Toys’R’Us Australia and others need to get to.
Without dwelling on one brand for too long, I figure it’s time to move on to examine Kmart‘s Easter promotions. Locally, I am immediately presented with an Easter catalogue on the homepage.
Nice idea, but upon clicking through to the catalogue I realise I cant actually buy from it. Instead, I am just virtually flicking through an electronic version of the same junk mail I have already flipped through on my couch. What is this – 1999? Uninspiring and boring from Kmart Australia.
Upon landing at the US Kmart website, I’m immediately informed that “great gifting starts here” – and indeed it does, with pre-organsied searches based on a set budget, in addition to free colouring pages – just the kind of offering I was hoping for in the first place.
Then there was Target. In appraising the Australian Target’s site, I’m not sure if they realise Easter is just a week away – no mention of it at all. UPDATE: Since writing this, Target Australia has added an Easter promo to its homepage carousel, explaining that customers can win “1 of 20 $50 gift vouchers” if they can find hidden Easter eggs on the website. I guess that means it’s time to give the kids the credit card and let them go nuts!
Now, let’s compare that with Target in the US. Its website knows Easter is nearly here and it tells me to “get a hop on Easter”, which is presented along with terrific merchandising and pre-organised search functionality.
At this point I’m definitely seeing a trend in comparing local vs. US websites for holiday promotions, but admittedly we haven’t yet had a look at the gastronomical element. Certain foods are essential during Easter, and they can vary significantly between cultures – with fish being the order of the day for many.
While Coles may be pushing a valuable fuel offer, which is certainly important during Easter weekend, but for a supermarket who have had Easter eggs on display in-store since just after Christmas, it doesn’t feel nearly consumer focused enough.
On the other hand, Woolies’ brilliant use of side real estate is theme merchandising 101 and presents a standard that all retail sites should replicate. The carousel on the Woolworths page highlights some Easter deals and offers – this is a long way ahead of their rival’s presentation in terms conversion opportunities.
Merchandising is something of a science – you only need to listen to brand managers, marketers for FMCG companies and big retailers themselves to know how much time, effort and energy goes into presenting products. In fact, there are plenty of statistical merchandising formulas that are worked on by highly paid marketers in many large retail businesses.
Local retailers should (and probably do) have as much merchandising knowledge as their overseas counterparts – yet they aren’t applying it online. Why is it that the local big stores continue to miss opportunities?