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  • Primark a Prime Example of How Not to Market Yourself Online

    Yesterday I wrote a post on Econsultancy about why not selling online can damage your brand. This does sound very obvious, but it’s surprising how many well-known UK brands and even high-street retailers do not manage to get this right online.

    One of the examples given in the comments (thanks Andon) was the Primark website, who not only fail to sell their products online, but they also have no product catalogue available either. Plus the website has clearly not been optimised for the search engines, without going into too much details just check out:

    • Title tags – non-keyword descriptive is a big understatement!
    • URL’s – long ID’s when browsing deeper into the site and clicking back to the homepage
    • International strategy – Irish and Spanish versions both hosted on primark.co.uk

    But back to my main point of selling online and below is a screenshot of the womenswear product page. This very briefly outlines the type of products and brands available but without going into any further detail:

    What this means, is that in addition to being unable to buy products online, users also won’t be able to browse a selection of available products either. This really is a huge missed opportunity in terms of potential direct sales and converting online visitors (who may find a product they like and visit the store at a later date) into potential customers. It’s also a missed opportunity in terms of effectively integrating offline and online marketing, by ensuring that those people who see a Primark advertisement can quickly visit the website to find and purchase a products they like.

    Plus, and this is probably the biggest reason I’m writing this post, I’m sure us guys would appreciate it if our girlfriends/wifes could find the latest new outfit online and save us several hours of getting dragged around shops by just simply buying them instead! Or at least they could go into the shop knowing what they are looking for without trying on fourteen pairs of shoes first! Perhaps that would be too easy though, I may be asking for too much here! :D


    13 Responses to “Primark a Prime Example of How Not to Market Yourself Online”

    1. Jon (towlie) says:

      Wow thats a pretty poor website even for Primark !
      Man oh man I wish they had an online store if there is anything more depressing than waiting in a mile long Primark queues for a £2 top with the girlfriend/wife I ve not heard it!
      Always bring a towel.

    2. Stephen Logan says:

      Hard to argue that it’s a major missed opportunity in terms of generating some kind of revenue from the hordes of eager online shoppers (and their pensive high-street shopping partners). Look how long it took TK-Maxx to do it though? Both have huge volumes of stock, usually at a low price and are constantly rotating – unlike most conventional retailers or seasoned ecommerce sites.

      My personal hunch, with this site at least, is that it has been made to clear the Primark name a little. The emphasis (even from the screengrab in the article) is clearly on ethical trading. Primark have been pilloried throughout the media for their questionable manufacturing methods; so it’d be my guess that this is seen as a cheap and convenient repost under a friendly guise. Concerned consumers can now shop happily along with the throngs of others in Primark stores throughout the world, free from guilt…apparently.


    3. Dixon Jones says:

      There may be a twisted logic here. Primark may have taken the decision that a bird in the shop is worth more than a man on the Internet (to mix many metaphors). Primark – if my memory serves – sells near the lower end of the market – so impulse purchasing is a big part of raising the basket value. I can therefore see an argument for not selling on the site. Raising the basket value online needs some cross sell analysis and a more sophisticated shopping cart. However – they are CERTAINLY missing a trick not having the catalog on the site… connected to a voucher that MAN can print off, to get BIRD going into the cheap shop instead of the designer shop next door.

    4. @Stephen, I definitely agree that it is more difficult to create an online store when there is such a large quantity of rotating stock. And yes, the website does appear to be aiming towards highlighting Primark’s ethical trading and trying to help improve their reputation.

      In addition to this the store locator and recruitment are the main goals of the site, however there are hints that sneak peaks and products may be coming soon. Would certainly be good to hear if there are any plans for expanding the site.

      @Jon, absolutely – I thought a few of the guys might agree with me on this! ;)

      @Dixon, like your thinking – that would save us both time and money! :D

    5. Tammy says:

      Believe me, this is definitely an improvement on their old site which was nothing but a glorified landing page with a logo and a list of stores. It’s not great, they could be missing out on sales oppotunities but it is brand building and a step in the right direction.

    6. James Gurd says:

      Yep it’s amazing to see a major retailer still without a compelling online presence – my girlfriend loves shopping at Primani (as she calls it!) but gets annoyed by the lack of web options.
      Another retailer that is blatantly behind the times online is H&M – I can’t work out why they would not sell direct? Lots of flash but no ability to take cash.
      The fashion market is vibrant online, both at the value and the premium end. Not having an ecommerce operation seems to be a very strange commercial strategy.
      Perhaps they know something we don’t……..

    7. Agree with most comments, the biggest barrier is the desire to deliver “fast fashion” (or Depeche Mode as the french would say), in a trend lead by Zara. Interestingly neither Zara (who don’t even own http://www.zara.co.uk) nor H&M have managed to deliver a transactional website, but the home grown New Look has.

      What then gets interesting is that New Look don’t appear to be undertaking any paid search (currently).


    8. Thanks Richard, interesting that Zara and H&M haven’t got online shops, Calvin Klein is another example. Also very surprised about New Look’s lack of PPC ads.

      @James, not another Primani fan! Completely agree that it’s a very strange commercial strategy. As Dixon mentioned, the least they could do is have an online catalogue and sell gift vouchers online.

    9. One aspect of mail order and online shopping we should bear in mind when considering Primark is the “returns” aspect. I have many friends who wished to return items but eventually decided that it would be cheaper not to do so as the cost of the journey to the shop was almost as much as the item cost. I imagine this is an often repeated pattern which helps keep the percentage of returns lower. Online however this process is much easier and so the return rate would in all probability rise significantly, requiring the implementation of a department just to process these returns.

      When looking at the cost implications we can begin to see that in all probability an online store might not be in Primark’s best interests.
      In my opinion however Primark would probably gain more from blogging and building a community/network thus increasing their brand awareness and also getting invaluable feedback from their customers.

      As to Zara, Calvin Klein and H&M – no comment.

    10. I’ve just noticed there’s now a Facebook group called “Bring Primark Shopping Online” too, looks like there’s definitely a demand: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=113078241003&ref=mf

    11. Julia says:

      I agree, what on earth is wrong with these major stores – operating in 2009 with no e-commerce presence!!!! Examples who should be shamed are Gap, Benetton, H and M, Primark and Zara. Utterly ridiculous! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!

    12. Kim Smart says:

      This is so frustrating. How many tourists like me are introduced to this store – fall in love with it – and then can’t ever access it again unless we come back to England? Am I supposed to spend $800 for a cheapie plane ticket, plus who knows how much on a hotel, just so that I can get to a Primark?

      Now – if I could shop online… the bed linens, the shower curtains, the cheap (even after shipping) crew neck shirts, the sweaters…

    13. TUNDE says:

      I think we are forgetting something here.Primark is a cost saving store and the cost associated with managing online sales is not cheap. I dont think they are willing to spend such amount.

      Their stategy i think is for customers to come into the stores, see what they like and buy it.

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