Ascendant mobile communications retailer, The Strathfield Group Limited (SGL) launched a comprehensive, full e-commerce Web site yesterday, the first in Australia to use IBM's latest e-business solution, Net.Commerce PRO.
The site lists in excess of 7000 telecommunications products and the connection plans available for them as well as the growing range of business equipment offered through the group's 87 stores nationally. Phase two of the project, slated for the June quarter of 1999, will introduce the large range offered through SGL's Software Today stores and car audio product which was the foundation of the business.
Andrew Kelly, managing director, SGL, said the Website was its "first real attempt to cater for customers needs" and he sees it as an efficient means to acquire new customers, one of the major challenges facing retailers.
Kelly expects the Website to represent 10 per cent of the company's customer contacts within three years, which, as a 100-store organisation, he said "is like opening another 10 stores".
The interesting thing about Strathfield's launch into Internet trading is the plan to eventually integrate the product database, shopping cart transactions and secure on-line payment with back end systems. One of IBM's claims about its new solution is the ability to far more easily link e-commerce to customer relationship management, enterprise resource management and supply chain management systems.
The Website's attractive and functional front end was designed by New Media and reflects Strathfield's in-your-face attitude to marketing while Internet specialists Cirrus Technologies integrated the back end systems.
Strathfield's plan is to leverage off the 400,000 existing mobile customers it has contact with four times a year through catalogue mail-outs engage in. Relationships with these customers helped turnover top $113million in the half year to the end of December.
Mobile phone users are generally technology conscious and therefore, many will turn to the Website when directed there by the catalogue. Once on-line to Strathfield, customers who select a product, will be presented with all the accessories and plans suitable to it, while a simple search engine assists both informed and uninformed buyers.
Linking e-commerce transactions with back end customer and product databases has been identified as the real way in which retailers will be able to use the Web to maximise customer satisfaction and retention.
"As well as being able to facilitating cross-sell and up-sell to visitors, the Website gives us the opportunity to get clear messages to them," Kelly said. "This is very much an extension of the existing Strathfield business model. We are a growth company."
The Strathfield Group Limited Web site: (www.strathfield.com.au)