The Burton Group is rolling out a series of electronic retailing Websites from September, in a move aimed at anticipating a mass market in electronic shopping through digital TV services.
The project is being headed by Eva Pascoe, joint founder and communications director of the Cyberia CafÃ© Group, who has been appointed as director of online marketing at Burton.
The decision to push ahead with a number of full commerce sites follows the launch in November 1996 of promotional sites for several of Burton’s high street chains in a production deal with CondÃ© Nast.
“Currently the sites are very pictorial,” says Pascoe. “You can see them, but you can’t buy.”
The retailing group is hoping to roll out Web-based electronic shopping services for Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Burton’s Menswear chains, with Debenhams, Top Man/Top Shop and Principles also likely candidates for the introduction of full electronic commerce sites.
According to Pascoe, Burton has been impressed by the level of electronic shopping achieved by the Website of the Innovations Group, the gadget catalogue business, which was taken over by Burton in August 1996.
Pascoe attributes the success of the site (innovations.co.uk) to the close demographic fit between Innovations’ customer base and the existing profile of UK Internet users.
But she accepts that the upmarket, male profile of Web surfers does not closely match the customer base of many of Burton’s other high street retail brands.
Instead, Burton is justifying its early move to develop electronic shopping as a method of gearing up for the anticipated development of a mass market in TV-delivered interactive services, says Pascoe.
“At the moment, the Innovations site has the best fit,” she says. “But as a platform for electronic shopping, we are looking ahead to TV-centric interactive shopping.”