But even a small test pilot of this size is proving quite a feat for a brick-and-mortar-focused brick-and-mortar retailer. For Primark, clicking and collecting has been long time coming – the retailer has been cautious about delving into e-commerce, even during the height of the coronavirus. Last year, the company finally announced big plans to digitize its operations, which included the newly introduced BOPIS option and other upcoming features such as local in-store inventory information such as product sizes and quantity availability. the The BOPIS pilot is the first feature to be released, and the others have yet to be implemented.. Primark doesn’t offer online shipping yet and has said it probably won’t be launching anytime soon. By implementing a buy online, pick up in store, the retailer hopes to offer a scaled-down version of e-commerce.
Some experts in e-commerce in social networks even speculated that the launch debacle is helping build excitement for Primark’s new feature, while others noted the fall of the digital program means that it is already becoming popular with customers.
Meanwhile, Primark is taking the technology problem in stride.
In a statement about the website feature being broken, a Primark spokesperson said that “it’s been great to see so much interest in the launch of our new Click and Collect test.” The spokesperson continued: “We are aware that some people have been having trouble accessing the website this morning and we are working hard to fix it to ensure everyone can easily access and navigate the site.”
As of Tuesday morning, several Primark online customers posted on social media about that the website is still largely unavailable.
Brad Houldsworth, head of product at headless trading platform Remarkable Commerce, said the crashed website shows the retailer failed to adequately prepare for the onslaught of visitor traffic. “Unfortunately, the technology was not configured correctly for the volume of traffic seen, meaning the stress of increased traffic slowed the site down and eventually caused it to stop and fail,” Houldsworth explained.
He added that the incident is an opportunity for Primark, whose technology infrastructure lags far behind other competitors. like H&M and Zara — to further improve the program. “It is absolutely vital for an e-commerce platform and technology stack to test their solutions and continually improve efficiency, so they can grow without worrying about downtime,” Houldsworth said.
E-commerce in general has proven to be an expensive channel for fast fashion brands, including Primark’s main competitors. Over the past five years, Zara has gradually added omnichannel features, such as in-store availability and pickup, as a way to help merge their online and physical channels. The strategy, which began with its online shipping feature in 2011, helped the Spanish retailer compete at the height of the pandemic. On the other hand, Swedish retailer H&M, which opened its US online store in 2013, does not yet offer BOPIS for local shoppers.
Now, Primark is making the digital investment to prevent margin hits if store traffic is affected again in the future.
Not having any form of e-commerce, even click and collect, impacted Primark hugely in 2020 and 2021, according to Primark earnings reports. While many customers were still shopping in-store, the company’s operating profit dipped to £321m in 2021. Primark was able to bounce back this year by doubling profits to £756m.
Houldsworth said that given Primark’s large volume of inventory, this test run will be closely watched by other retailers who have been hesitant to introduce digital compliance. These include many discount retailers, like TJ Maxx and Marshalls‘ parent company, TJX, as well as competitors Ross Stores and Burlington.
“I think a lot of brands will be very interested to see how it all pans out for Primark, and whether they will make this a permanent addition to all stores,” Houldsworth said. “If Primark continues to improve the feature, the investment in selective e-commerce could pay off.”