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The UK's fashion brands are missing out online by not making the most of their websites and offering a full range of products to web shoppers.

In the YouGov survey conducted for GSI Commerce, brands such as H&M, TK Maxx, Primark and Matalan were highlighted for failing to make the most of their web presence, despite the obvious benefits of selling online.

Of the four retailers, at least Matalan has decided to sell online, even though it does offer a very limited range on its website; only 48 products in the men's section for instance.

It has also decided to launch its e-commerce site on a separate URL to the main Matalan site, which is the top result on Google for a brand search. Given the fact that it doesn't appear to have been outsourced, as is the case with Argos and WHSmith's entertainment websites, it seems a strange move as it makes it a little bit harder for people to buy online.

Other than that though, it is a reasonably usable site, and the move into online retail should prove to be profitable for a discount fashion brand, especially when recession-hit shoppers are looking for bargains more than ever, and when three of its major rivals are lagging behind online. 

In the survey, the fashion retailers that consumers said they would most like to see establish or improve their online offering were Primark (26%), Matalan (21%), TK Maxx (16%) and H&M (14%). Of the three, only Matalan sells online in the UK.

All three have a presence online, but do little more than help customers locate their nearest store. These companies will know how much traffic comes to their websites, but a decent proportion will be customers with an intent to purchase. By not selling online, they are losing out on some easy sales, as many customers will simply find a competitor that does sell online.

I looked at this issue last year and picked out ten examples of well known retailers that didn't sell online in the UK, though many have now taken the plunge. It is surprising that well-known and popular brands like H&M and Primark have still not launched e-commerce sites. If they still need to be convinced of the benefits, they should check out our E-commerce Beginner's Guide, which is free to registered Econsultancy users.

Graham Charlton

Published 14 April, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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