Gerry gets online wrong again!

Darren Connolly - Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Two separate but linked articles struck me today. In one NAB’s Online Retails Sales Index shows Online Retail Sales grew 15x the rate of the overall retail sector in the 12 months to end February 2012. Now this is still only 5% of total retail spending at $10.9bn. The real marker however is that we are well behind the US and Europe where online is more like 15%. So there is a lot of catching up to do....

The second related to everyone’s favourite grumpy billionaire Gerry Harvey. Gerry recently trumpeted that internet sales would never work for furniture and bedding items. His premise? People wanted to bounce up and down on the bed before buying. And you can’t do that online! Gerry’s views on online have proved to be wrong before but it was the response from the founder of Milan Direct that was interesting;

‘If you walk into a Harvey Norman store and buy something they don’t ever contact you again’. 

A missed opportunity? Milan Direct is an online furniture and bedding store (!) with an online membership of 100,000. Members provide feedback and are regularly communicated with especially on special offers. Guess which business has a 40% customer return rate? 

The future is becoming as much about customer engagement and empowerment as it is about products and services AND while the former aspects are rapidly moving online we are only at the bottom of the J-Curve!

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