Gap, one of the last high street chains to sell online in this country, finally launched an e-commerce site this week. 

I picked out ten well known retailers that didn't sell online two years ago, so I've been reviewing this list to see if any are still any that are missing out...

The drawbacks of not selling online

The most obvious point is that companies miss out on the chance to drive additional revenues by selling online and broadening the reach of their stores.

According to IMRG / Capgemini, the e-commerce market in the UK is predicted to grow by 110% over the next decade, reaching £123bn by 2020, and retailers that still don't sell online need to get involved in this market. 

Kevin Gibbons has outlined some ways that not selling online can damage a brand. For one, people expect well known brands to be online, so not having an e-commerce site can make a company less credible, while making competitors that are online look more progressive and successful by comparison. 

These retailers are also missing out on a potential global audience for their products, while failing to collect a wealth of valuable data, from email addresses to online shopping and search patterns, all of which can be used to inform and improve offline retail. 

Retailers that have recently started selling online

In the last couple of years, the following brands have launched e-commerce sites: 

Fashion retailer Jigsaw launched its first e-commerce site last year.  

Clarks also launched online last year, here's the site review

Habitat now has an e-commerce site, though the text needs to be more readable... 

Selfridges launched a transactional site in March. Here's Matt Curry's review of the site. 

Planning to launch an e-commerce site

Both H&M and Zara, two brands with a strong high street presence in the UK, are launching their first e-commerce sites next month. H&M's site launches on September 16, and Zara two weeks earlier. 

Still not online

Claire's Accessories just has a site with general information and a store locator. Considering that this is a retailer that is very popular with a younger demographic used to shopping online. It stocks easy to ship, high margin products, so not selling online is a missed opportunity. 

Fenwicks is a department store retailer with ten stores around the UK. Instead of an online retail presence, it has a rubbish Flash site. 

Somerfield (Now The Co-operative) was online in the early days, but closed its site back in 2000, but hasn't been since, while other grocery retailers like Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys have a massive head start in this market. The same also applies to Morrisons

Who else should be online? 

With 141 stores in the UK and upwards of £2bn in sales last year, you would think Primark would do well online. Indeed, a survey recently found that it was the fashion brands shoppers would most like to see online. 

Have I missed any? Let me know below... 

Graham Charlton

Published 26 August, 2010 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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Comments (12)

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Ian Swindall

How interesting that Primark and Morrisons are by almost any measure you choose to apply, the most successful retailers in their sectors in the UK, yet  to date they have stood away from electronic retailing.

about 7 years ago



H&M UK - they've even released an iPad app... but it doesnt have a catalogue on there - just a couple of outfits with a 'style' guide section. FAIL

about 7 years ago



I'm especially surprised by Morrisons, [never mind Sainsbury's] for a company that tries to go on a value for money angle, you would think any way to cut costs would be snapped at. Ach you can just never tell can you.

about 7 years ago


Adam Sanders

Agree with H&M, surely they're missing a trick? I have also been surprised that for a long time ZARA have not moved into the online market, but it seems they are now jumping on board with an ecommerce site due to launch on the 2nd of September. Was the huge growth of ASOS not a big enough kick up the bum?

about 7 years ago

Clare Blunt

Clare Blunt, Sales and Marketing Executive at Web Marketplace Solutions

I'm both looking forward to and am slightly apprehensive about the launches of ZARA and H&M's ecommerce offerings. It's certainly about time they got with the programme, but given the long awaited launch and subsequent disappointment I felt with the Selfridges website I just hope these sites will be worth the wait.

In terms of other retailers that are missing out there are still a number of luxury brands such as Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton who still offer only a flash based site with information rather than any interactivity or transactional functionality.

about 7 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

Simply stunning that some big brands aren't online. Particularly with the off line crunch and the online boom. Wake up CEO's!

about 7 years ago



TKMAXX used to have a non-retailing website and have now launched a quite nice and easy to navigate e-commerce site.

about 7 years ago


Charles Nicholls

While Gap may be late to the UK market, they are anything but an ecommerce laggard. Numbers released by Gap last week show that they are currently selling approx $1bn per annum online, which now represents approximately one third of their overall revenues. The launch of the UK site merely represents a geographic expansion into the UK and other markets as part of a much bigger ecommerce growth plan. Charles

about 7 years ago



I still can't believe that Benetton (a huge international brand) doesn't have an e-store!  I also wonder about Claire's Accessories and Primark but heigh ho what can you do?!

about 7 years ago

Aliya Zaidi

Aliya Zaidi, - at Mrs Aliya Zaidi

Paperchase currently only sells via Amazon; its new-look website with ecommerce functionality is launching next week. 

about 7 years ago



Why are big beauty brands like Chanel, YSL, Christian Dior, Revlon not having e-commerce flagship websites in the U.K. when they do in the U.S?  Beauty is big business (even in a recession) - they are missing a trick by not having e-commerce functionality on their 'shop-window' websites - time they let the Brits get their noses off the cold window glass and into the warmth of the shop - where some money can be spent!

almost 7 years ago

Peter Leatherland

Peter Leatherland, Online Sales Manager at Ethical Superstore

I don't get this at all, I have a Fenwicks voucher so decided to have a look at their website, I was thinking I might have to use the voucher in store but would at least be able to look around the site and see what I wanted to buy. I was amazed when I saw a Flash site with nothing on!

I can perhaps understand in 1999 some dinosaur CEO saying 'we don't need to be online' or 'it's just a fad' but this is 2011. The amount large retailers like this spend on TV advertising they could easily afford to set up an e-commerce site. Graham is spot on when he says it costs them credibility, just makes me think they can’t afford a website or they are 15 years behind the times.

As for Flash sites like Mexx, surely their marketing manager, even if they knew nothing about online would think it was worthwhile spending half an hour or so researching what makes a good ecommerce site, in this time they would find out enough to have come to the conclusion a Flash site would be a disaster.

over 6 years ago

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