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Letters to February 28, 2009

The round-up of letters to the editor.

A seamless service is key to greater profitability

Consumers are demonstrating a clear willingness to embrace the online purchase of premium brands - but only if the experience is right and replicates the high quality in-store environment (Fight the credit crunch online, Drapers Ecommerce Focus, February 14).

Most mid-tier fashion and lifestyle retailers would admit that their current ecommerce solution bears little resemblance to the in-store experience. Their online product ranges are often limited, stock information is out of date, and there is no link between online and in-store activity which, for example, means customers cannot purchase via the internet and then return a product to a store. As a result, these retailers cannot meet their customers’ online expectations.

Retailers must now evolve beyond stand-alone attempts at etailing. By creating a seamless strategy across the supply chain, customer service and performance measurement, retailers will be able to drive quantifiable value from every sales channel.

Every fashion retailer recognises that true multi-channel retail is the future, but few have achieved it.However, by adopting an integrated approach, a profitable multi-channel strategy is within reach.

Sam Jackson, chief executive, Prologic, Berkhamsted, Herts

Etailers must stay nimble

Last month’s 19% growth in online retail sales (Online clothing sales rise 32% in January, Drapersonline.com, February 17) sends a positive message in a time of economic gloom, but etailers must not rest on their laurels.

Mike Petevinos (head of retail consulting at consultancy Capgemini UK) has already called for bricks-and-clicks retailers to improve their online offering if they are to keep up with their pure-play rivals. But with a wealth of high street expertise, well-known brands have an edge over those operating purely online.

Category management, a cross-selling strategy commonly used on the high street, can help online retailers to reduce the cost of customer acquisition while increasing sales.

When things take a turn for the worse, it is the most agile which survive.

Pontus Kristiansson, chief executive and co-founder, Avail Intelligence, Malmo, Sweden

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