Has this Lancashire-based firm solved the problem of online versus retail?

While uptake of internet at home has risen massively in the last decade and more and more people are going online to make purchases, it is often forgotten than some people are still not able or willing to buy online, and that’s still a sizeable market to be missing out on.

So one homeware retailer has decided to combine the best of shop with online by enabling customers to shop online while they are inside the phsyical store.

The Lancashire-based firm, The Original Factory Shop, are retailers of everything from furniture, through electricals, to clothing. They began trading in 1969 selling surplus orders and seconds from Marks & Spencer but have this summer begun rolling out an instore ‘webshop’ terminal in stores.

The system allows customers to browse the full website range online (much wider than the range instore) and choose what they would like. Orders can then be placed and purchases paid for at the store counter (meaning customers can pay without the need of a credit card that is often a barrier to buying online). Just like an online order purchases are then delivered to the customers home in due course.

It’s an interesting concept and not one likely to break the bank. Most retail outlets now equipped with internet access and the cost of a terminal to operate the ‘site’ on the concept could be quickly rolled out to many businesses. Many people still don’t have an email address or even a credit or debit card and even those that do are often reluctant to hand over that information over the internet.

Giving them this opportunity gives them an opportunity to see what it is all about without scaring them. It will be interesting to see if more retailers follow suit and for those that do, how they address the issue of price differentials between web and in-store.

Have you seen other stores adopting a similar practice?

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Tim Fuell only joined the Webfusion team last year but having been a customer of the group for more than 10 years, he knew all about their success in the Web hosting field. After writing his Masters thesis on the threat of cybersquatting way back in 1998, he has seen the Internet grow beyond even his wildest dreams. A journalist for over 16 years and a qualified Solicitor, Tim is one of a team of bloggers in the Webfusion stable aiming to educate, inform and assist their online readership.