WHSmith: how will taking its site down impact on sales, PPC and more?

As many of you will be aware by now, WHSmith took its website offline on Sunday after it discovered that pornographic eBooks were available through its Kobo e-reader.

While the material was undoubtedly unacceptable and needed to be taken offline, it did seem like an over-reaction to pull down the entire website. What’s even more surprising is that two days later the site still isn’t back online.

Yesterday we published a post discussing WHSmith’s decision, including the impact on its SEO, alternative courses of action and what it says about the business’ understanding of digital marketing and ecommerce.

And as the site is still offline there’s more to be said in terms of the wider implications for WHSmith’s digital marketing initiative and the long term impact on the brand.

WHSmith’s decision to go offline shows little understanding of digital

WHSmith took its entire website offline yesterday after it found that pornographic eBooks were available through its Kobo e-reader.

Customers trying to access WHSmith.co.uk are greeted with a holding page which states that the retailer is “disgusted by these particular titles” and is taking immediate steps to have them removed.

While this process is on-going the site has been taken offline ‘to best protect our customers and the public’. It will come back online once all self-published eBooks have been removed and WHSmith’s is sure that people can no longer access the material.

There was understandable anger that shoppers were exposed to explicit content when they typed ‘daddy’ into its on-site search tool, however it does seem something of an over-reaction to take its website offline in order to fix the problem.

Amazon and Waterstones were also found to be stocking similar titles, and while they’ve expressed shock that the situation has occurred they haven’t taken the same drastic steps as WHSmith.