Warehouse rules out 'click and collect'
Moves overseas to converge physical retailing with online sales have been ruled out – for now – by the country's biggest listed retailer, the Warehouse.
Overseas commentators have noted a trend called "click and collect", which allows shoppers to pick up online purchases at retail outlets.
The Warehouse has one of the biggest retail footprints in the country and has moved aggressively into online retailing in the last two years.
The head of multi-channel development, manager Richard Harrison, said the click and collect idea was not on the agenda now, but it could be "later down the track".
The company's more immediate priority was to have its full range of goods available online – more than 50,000 items – within the next six months.
"The teams are working hard to do that at the moment. We currently have about half of the range available."
Harrison said the company added heavily to its online range before Christmas, which led to some strong growth.
While online sales figures were under wraps, he said hits on the Warehouse's online store were up significantly on the previous year. The company had two million visits in December, up 60 per cent from the year before.
Harrison said that while he could not see its online shop replacing the Red Sheds, the internet was a sphere the company needed to be in. "I think it complements the stores."
When the Warehouse started online sales in 2009, then chief executive Ian Morrice predicted that in three to five years the online store's annual turnover would at least match that of one of its largest stores – between $35 million and $50m a year.
Retail analyst Tim Morris of Coriolis said click and collect had been around for a long time in the supermarket industry, but it was difficult to make it cost-effective.
"Depending on the product, the challenge with it is, it's a cost-adding exercise."
Overseas, the world's biggest general retailer, Wal-mart, had not embraced it, and those that were doing it well had both scale and a sophisticated approach to inventory, shipping and returns.
Morris said the Warehouse would be better to "stick to its knitting".
- © Fairfax NZ News