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High street brands yet to embrace e-commerce

Britain's big retailing chains are not touting their wares online, according to a report
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

Major high street brands are still failing to make the leap online -- with more than half the big name shops in town centres across Britain still on a "watching brief" regarding e-commerce.

Names such as the Body Shop, JJB Sports and Safeway are still very much offline, despite competitors running successful online retail arms.

And they are not in the minority. Sixty percent of UK high street brands are yet to embrace the Web, according to research conducted by supply chain management firm Amethyst.

The research looked at 100 top-name brands, all featured in the Retail Week Top 500, and found only 40 of them ran a transactional Web site. While many run sites which advertise their wares, or offer details of "your nearest store" few have made the leap to selling goods online.

Graham Campbell, marketing manager at Amethyst, believes this poor take-up of e-commerce strategies is letting down customers.

"Ask the average shopper whether they would expect to find all their favourite high street brands on the Internet and the answer would almost certainly be yes," he said. "We were surprised to find nearly one in five had no Web site at all," added Campbell.

But it's not just the consumers who are losing out. Campbell believes these companies are also shooting themselves in the foot by not getting online.

"Many [retailers] are experiencing real growth by taking e-tailing seriously and developing truly effective transactional Web sites," he said.

"Retailers without a transactional Web site that accurately reflects the equivalent high street brand experience are failing to meet the consumers' needs -- and will increasingly lose out to those who do."

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