We plan to continue to invest in both our stores and our website.
I’ve been following with interest the debate on Drapers’ LinkedIn forum about independent retailers discounting current season stock online. My own view is that this is a short-term strategy that will eventually undermine the whole idea of designer product as being something exclusive and turn it into just another commodity where price is the only issue. At American Pie we don’t want to be a part of this so are already switching our budget to labels that support our ethos rather than undermine it.
However, the more interesting statistic concerning the internet was tucked away in last week’s issue - that growth in etail sales is at a record low. I’m sure we’ll see the same pattern here as in the US, where online sales grew rapidly at first before reaching a plateau. I just don’t buy into the idea that the web will replace the high street. For most people, shopping is much more than just buying things; it’s a leisure and social activity that cannot be replicated online.
We view our website as an important addition to our core business, giving customers another way of buying from us. Many customers, though, seem to use it as a source of information to see what’s in stock before visiting a store. Our most visited page is the location map and we are getting many new visitors to our real stores.
So we plan to continue to invest in both our stores and our website. We want to give the customer the choice of how to shop and so enhance our service rather than just focusing on giving them a perceived bargain.
I believe the internet will increasingly become much more of a big clearing house for discounted stock, which is a useful tool but not something we want to build our business around.
Bashir Mohammed is the owner of independent designer fashion business American Pie in west London