Dubai: The Landmark Group’s eCommerce portal has gone in for a complete makeover in the UAE. Instead of the catch-all “LandmarkShops.com”, the Group’s online presence will now be built around seven of its core brands such as Splash, Babyshop, Centrepoint and Home Centre, with each having a customised website.
At the same time, each of the sub-sites will have cross-selling opportunities for the other in-house brands for shoppers in the UAE. Other Gulf markets could be added later. (The online operations in India will continue under Landmarkshops.com.)
A top official said that the switch was not a defensive move — “When you reach certain levels of critical mass you must innovate to attract sales,” said Savitar Jagtiani, Business Head — E-commerce at Landmark. “Our existing brands are extremely successful — they have quite a lot of brand heritage but was mainly focused on store sales.
“Now, all our brands are focusing on having a store and an app kind of strategy, thus fulfilling the omni-channel feature. Our next step is to provide a seamless omni-channel customer experience, so that if you are shopping for a brand offline you are doing so for the same brand online as well. We do feel (there’s) massive opportunity in retail commerce and the omni-channel space.
“We are working on building our omni-channel. This could be one of our biggest USP — the Group has over more than 2,000 stores that offer massive omni-channel opportunity than most other players.”
The switch from the LandmarkShops.com was effected late on November 23. Jagtiani says in the three years that the original ecom portal was running, the transaction numbers were building up nicely. Through July 2013 to now, it had a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 135 per cent.
“This is one of many metrics that can be used to gauge the health of a business — we actually tripled our web sales from year 1 to year 2, and from year 2 to year 3 we quadrupled,” said Jagtiani. “We can still see our key metrics moving in the right direction.”
“When we completed our third financial year, net web sales for our seven online brands crossed 1 per cent of offline sales for those brands in the UAE. We believe this is a healthy first marker as online shopping rapidly grows for our brands and Group.”
Then there are the product options available on these online stores. It started off with 1,200 units from three brands in late 2012 and which has now swelled to 55,000 products from seven core brands.
According to eCommerce industry sources, for the Group to build its future online presence around individual portals such as SplashFashions.com or HomeCentre.com makes for a lot of sense. These are the names that resonate deep with shoppers and it makes for an easier user experience to go directly to that site than navigate via “LandmarkShops.com/Splash”. It also eases the marketing and advertising side of things.
By focusing on its own brands for the online, the Group has effectively ruled out the option of having third-party labels being sold on LandmarkShops.com. On whether there was the possibility of adding new categories such as F&B or other consumer choices, Jagtiani said: “We will obviously evaluate all the right opportunities at the right time so see if they are worth our investment.”
It was surprising that the Group decided to launch a dedicated online portal for its India operations in January rather than try for one in a market like Saudi Arabia, where it does have a sizeable physical presence.
“India has a very hyper-competitive eCommerce market with a number of players, tremendous amounts of venture capital and private equity funding,” the official said. And then you have the large audience to whom you can work on delivering a great digital experience.”