Do Primark need E-commerce?

Primark is finally embracing e-commerce by launching a selection of their fashion products on the major online retailer website, ASOS.

Having undertaken a 20-year high growth programme and appearing on high streets across the country, consumers would be right in questioning why the brand has taken so long to embrace ecommerce.

Primark’s target market are consumers who seek inexpensive and quick to buy fashion. Their consumers know that their garments are made with low quality materials and have a short lifespan.

The obvious benefit for Primark embracing e-commerce is that they will be able to reach a vast audience. It’s forecasted that digital solutions in the fashion industry will continue to grow and it looks like Primark is trying to keep up. E-commerce is established, IMRG estimated that last year the UK B2C value of the online retail market was £78bn. Not utilising these online consumers could be a massive loss on potential sales.

Also, fashion brands are incorporating the latest digital trends in their business strategies, most notably Burberry being one of the first fashion brands to utilise mobile marketing and create an m-commerce site. Some may argue that the brands which have embraced e-commerce and digital solutions are of a different brand calibre to Primark, some competitors offer in-store collection for online orders, known as “Click and Collect”, which is likely to increase footfall in Primark’s stores.

E-commerce isn’t suited for every fashion retailer as delivery can be an issue for consumers. Many will not want to pay delivery costs or wait for 5 working days to receive their low quality, inexpensive products. In some cases, the delivery may be more expensive than the product ordered. This could be a turn-off for many consumers who are simply shopping for a bargain. Primark will have also been deliberating whether these consumers would take the time and effort to browse these types of products online. A crucial point is Primark’s profit margins are not as high as some other high street retailers, and therefore, selling their products online may not be as financially beneficial, as low order values make it harder to make a profit online.

Primark hasn’t been part of the demise of the British high street – in fact, it has been growing as a retailer without offering products online. This is perhaps because the strategy for low quality products at low prices is suited perfectly to consumers in the current economic climate. However, distributing a few items through a well-established platform such as ASOS is the best way to test the new channel. Primark can analyse their sales to see how their products are perceived before investing in their own e-commerce website.