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Does Primark need to sell online to survive?

3rd Feb 2022
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Primark needs to adapt and start selling online if they want to survive in the digital-first era we’re in today. Ecommerce has long been taking away footfall from the high-street and becoming the preferred way to shop. But, the COVID-19 pandemic was the final push that made online a normal habit for most consumers.

Beyond more customers shopping online, ecommerce will give Primark the opportunity to reach and build relationships with customers in new ways they haven’t previously explored.  The digital space is where today’s most successful brands are connecting with their loyal customers on a personal level through social commerce, shared values, and community-building tactics. Primark should be making the most of these opportunities to cement the loyalty of its customers and secure long-term survival.

By failing to adapt and expand their offering to omnichannel, Primark risks missing the opportunity to remain competitive against other brands that have successfully pivoted.  

Primark LoyaltyLion

Would Primark's sales be struggling if it sold online?

 Primark’s online success depends on how effectively they manage to capture their offline customers and connect with them online. Over the past year, we’ve seen digital-first brands such as GymShark and Farfetch take their online offerings to the high street and they’ve been able to do this successfully by delivering consistently good shopping experiences that drive customer retention across all touchpoints. Primark could achieve the same in reverse if they ensure that they offer customers the same high levels of convenience and wide product ranges that they offer in-store, online.  However, if they fail to deliver a good customer experience and cannot encourage repeat purchases online, then their low product prices could leave them struggling to make an online venture profitable.

Can it make selling online work?

At the heart of it all, much of Primark’s USP is convenience. People drop by when they’re already shopping because it’s cheap and handy. To succeed online where this footfall is harder to achieve, Primark will need to find common ground on which to build digital customer relationships. Without this, they will quickly find themselves spending a great deal on the acquisition of customers with a low lifetime value, who don’t return to repeat purchases. 

They need to think carefully about what they stand for as a brand, what their story is, and what they want to connect with their customers on. This is especially important as more and more consumers – particularly in Primark’s millennial target market – begin to make purchasing decisions based on value alignment. 

 While this might be a totally new approach for Primark as a brand, by pivoting their USP away from ease and convenience, the brand will be able to retain online shoppers for longer and ensure their survival.

What model should it adopt?

Primark should adopt an omnichannel model which allows customers to enjoy a consistent and engaging experience both online and in-store. Their best chance of success may come from investing in a delivery model similar to that of Amazon Prime to make sure customers receive the same instant gratification as they do on the high street. 

 However, they should consider implementing a loyalty program to make delivery perks more cost-effective, providing this benefit to their most valuable customers, and encouraging other shoppers to engage more to unlock the benefit. A loyalty program that customers can use when shopping both on and offline would also help Primark to connect with their customers everywhere that they shop. 

 Plus, by having an omnichannel approach, Primark will be able to use customer data collected through the online experience and use it to enhance the in-person experience for customers. For example, they could empower their in-store sales assistants to remind customers at the check out that they have loyalty points and rewards to claim on their in-store purchase.


Would an online launch be detrimental to the high street?

If Primark manages to replicate the convenience of their offline offering, and give customers reasons to engage and repeat purchase then customers will continue to shop with the brand whenever they come across it. 

Today, many brands are blurring the lines between online and offline. This could be a big opportunity for Primark, and the high street. The online giant, Gymshark, is set to launch its first-ever physical store on Regents Street this summer. And the luxury marketplace, Farfetch, has always been an advocate for omnichannel shopping, partnering with luxury boutiques on the ground and helping them reach more consumers worldwide through the internet.

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