David Jones wraps up online Xmas plans

Upmarket retailer David Jones has prepared its online store for the Christmas meltdown. This year it will be relying on bricks and mortar methodology and lessons learned from earlier e-tailing teething problems.

Upmarket retailer David Jones has prepared its online store for the Christmas meltdown. This year it will be relying on bricks and mortar methodology and lessons learned from earlier e-tailing teething problems.

AUSTRALIA (ZDNet Australia) - "The whole area of [customer] fulfillment has been a major learning process," Jenni Deslands, David Jones' GM of e-commerce, told ZDNet.

Last year, "[e-tailers] that outsourced fulfillment in many cases lost control," Deslands added. With Christmas just around the corner, "we believe we need to do it in-house".

David Jones' online store currently has 30 full-time employees on the books and a handful of casual workers.

The retail giant will step up recruitment of trained, casual labor for its online arm during the Christmas period to fulfil gift-wrapping and call center roles, a lesson it claims to have learnt from last year's e-tailers that couldn't cope with the number of calls they received.

"The consumer will hang up and go and buy products from elsewhere if they can't get that last question answered," Deslands said.

David Jones claims to have spent a lot of time and money implementing software, including a knowledge database of questions, that will help call center staff answer customer queries more efficiently.

The warehouse and distribution center has also been set up to handle David Jones' online demands, including the fluctuating peaks and troughs of order numbers.

"Christmas purchases have to be wrapped, packed and dispatched," Deslands said. "If we can save 10 percent in time off any of these tasks, we're providing our customers with a better service," Deslands added.

David Jones also claims to have ramped up delivery arrangements and now has agreements with a number of different courier groups, as well as its initial partner Australia Post.

Deslands believes that another problem e-tailers faced last year was having Web sites that were difficult to navigate, which resulted in consumers becoming frustrated and logging off.

"We've spent an enormous amount of time making our site simple and intuitive to use," Deslands said.

"It's very important factor to get this right or it will result in lost sales."

David Jones will bring bricks and mortar methodology to its online store to help it meet Christmas demands, including processes for having efficient quantities of product in stock and replenished quickly.

DJ believes that relationships it has established through its bricks and mortar business puts it in a better position than start-ups that don't have such leverage over suppliers.

Trading for about six weeks in all, the November 2 launch of an additional gift category following from the initial hamper and cosmetic/fragrance range, "really heralded the start of Christmas for us," Deslands said.

It was important to be up and trading before mid November to be ready for the Christmas demand, according to Deslands.

"You can plan all business processes in theory but it's not until you start operating that you find out where issues are going to be," Deslands added.