Facts, Figures and Rhetoric

The last week has seen numerous reports across different media regarding online sales. Some talking up the progress of retailers online, others saying the figures aren’t as good as they are made out to be – and Gerry Harvey saying omni-channel discussions are all just ‘bullshit’. Comparatively the recent NAB Online Sales index for July 2012 shows online sales increasing growth rate and picking up from a few quite months raising to 25% growth yoy; with traditional retail also picking up achieving 4.9% yoy growth – picking up from almost bottoming out to 0% in April. Figures look good – but why aren’t we seeing more retailers mention their figures?

 Facts, Figures and Rhetoric

Ideally when we look at these figures for online sales we also need to view them with the statements from the retailers – or lack of statements as it might be. Our biggest retailers have been typically slow to embrace online – and in recent months we have seen a turning of the tide from criticism and negativity to bullish positive comments – Myer CEO Bernie Brooks leading the way – saying traditional retailers will rule the web with in 3 years. However we still aren’t seeing any major retailers giving too many specific numbers for online sales.

JB Hi Fi are one of the few who do deal their figures; recently announcing that online sales are up 77.3% to $50.8million – this represents 1.62% of overall revenue – significantly below the 5.3% NAB quote as being the percentage of total online of traditional retail. Woolworths and Wesfarmers who operate numerous leading department stores – give very little away about their sales; it is understood that Big W (who woolies have used to test online sales market) is up as much as 76% online – but up from what? Wesfarmers store Officeworks is also rumored to be turning over $150million per annum – this would be 10% of total retail – but these figures haven’t been officially confirmed.

Gerry Harvey suggested that for all the ‘bullshit’ and ‘spin’ required for online– it made up only 1% of total revue – estimated to be turning over between $50-$60k per day. Gerry also said that he felt he and other retailers were almost forced to come out with spin to plump up their online strategies to the market. So does that mean that Gerry and others are only talking up online because they feel they have to? Some online sellers are doing well as the figures from NAB and others aren’t made up.

Macy’s in the USA who have been involved in a much publicized improvement of their in store and online experience – as we reported a months ago – announce some aspects of their online sales – their online sales are up 35.2% yoy for August 2012 – however they don’t release the figure – instead saying that online positively affected the company’s sale store sales by 1.6%. Online makes up same store sales percentage growth that was 5.1% for August. The figures coming from the US are more indicative of a market that is more mature – it also must be remembered that the states are still suffering recession style conditions and consumers are being very frugal.

The figures presented for online all look very impressive and having a channel online to combine with in store is definitely the way of the future; Gerry Harvey my say its ‘bullshit’ but the fact that retailers such as GAP, Top Shop, Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma are opening a physical presence here say different. More concrete figures from traders would be appreciated. By the industry as it gains momentum and importance in the future of retailing. The monthly sales figures contained in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index show significant growth; and highlight that consumers prefer an Australian option when compared to international – the big traditional guys are playing catch up – but who is leading and what is the margin.

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  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Facts, Figures and Rhetoric
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