Internet Retailers Feeling The Pressure Against High Street

Pricing could be a key issue for internet retailers in the coming year as high street stores look to match their online rivals, according to a leading e-commerce expert.

David Walmsley, head of e-commerce at Dixons Group, said at the annual E Commerce Expo in London on Tuesday that "just being cheap" is not enough for pure-play online retailers.

"We need to understand the broader brand promise. We have to understand how Dixons can be something other than on the money," he said.

"Pricing for everyone in the room will be the next leading topic for online retailers, and it will be interesting to see how it develops in the next 16 months."

Walmsley, who previously had great success as head of web sales at John Lewis, also shared some important tips on how to create an effective e-commerce strategy. Key among these is an effective approach to analytics.

"It's not the choice of package but what you do with it. People pay a lot of money to find out their weekly traffic, which is a bad way to do analytics. The challenge is understanding the leading indicators for driving more business," he said.

Walmsley also cited search engine optimisation as a vital element in a good e-commerce plan, explaining that "getting more traffic was one of the first levers I decided to pull".

However, the most important element of Dixons' success, according to Walmsley, is its approach to delivery, specifically in offering customers a highly flexible set of options, including three-hour windows at a charge of around £10.

"It's a leading proposition. The delivery options were the key to our transformation," he said.

Enabling a smooth reserve and collect process, where users can check stock availability online and buy in-store, is another important element of Dixons' success.

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