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TK Maxx has started to sell online in the UK, but the discount retailer is taking a cautious approach, and is only offering handbags for sale on the site so far.
The company is asking for feedback from customers on what else they would like to buy from the site though, so it seems that other product ranges will follow.
TK Maxx is one of a number of well-known high street retailers that have been slow to launch e-commerce offerings, despite missing out on potential sales online.
Well known brands like Primark, H&M, and Gap, (though it does sell online in the US) have all yet to launch e-commerce sites in the UK, though you would think that there is demand out there.
A recent survey suggests as much; shoppers picked out Primark, TK Maxx, H&M, and Matalan, as the fashion brands they would most like to see selling online.
According to Nielsen stats quoted in Retail Week, TK Maxx had an impressive 344,000 visitors to its UK site last month. While many may simply have arrived at the site looking for a contact number, or the location of their nearest store, I'm sure a significant number of these visitors were looking for a bargain online, and may well have ended up at a competitor's website when they found they couldn't buy anything.
Launching a limited range of handbags to sell online is at least a start, and is a similar approach to that taken by rival Matalan, which launched with a women's clothing range in January, though it has since expanded its offering,
Though the product range is limited, the site isn't bad so far; navigation is clear, there are some decent search and filtered navigation options, and the product pages are good, with quality product photos and clear information about delivery and returns policies.
It does make users register before entering the checkout, which is unnecessary, and also perhaps asks a few too many questions of customers before they sign up. Gathering information about customers is obviously useful for marketing purposes, but retailers should be careful not to put too many obstacles in front of customers about to make a purchase.
TK Maxx asks for information about the nearest stores and the product ranges that interest them, but it is not made clear that this information is optional, and it makes the checkout process longer than it needs to be.
During the checkout process, TK Maxx does a good job of reassuring customers with trustmarks (Verified by Visa, Verisign etc) and provides clear information on delivery, returns and contact details throughout.
What it doesn't do though, is to enclose the process; the main navigation options are still there, and plenty of links to either distract customers or take them out of the checkout.
It's a good site overall though, and it's interesting that TK Maxx has finally taken the plunge and launched an e-commerce site. It seems, especially in the middle of a recession, like a brand that should do well online, though it should have been braver and offered a more comprehensive product range online, rather than just handbags.