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Mr Price fashions presence online

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JSE-listed fashion retailer Mr Price has entered the fast-growing world of e-commerce with an online shop, set to go live in a matter of days.

As of Monday, South Africans will be able to view and purchase the entire range of Mr Price fashion apparel from one central location - online. Up until now, only about 20 of the retailer's 364 stores nationwide have been able to stock its full range, due to space limitations.

This is a first for the established retail company, founded in 1885 and trading publicly on the JSE since 1952. The move, says Mr Price e-commerce executive Donovan Baney, was prompted by South Africans' increasing uptake of online shopping - driven by increased broadband distribution, the mobile Internet and mushrooming smartphone penetration. “All of these factors are clear signals that online shopping is where the action will be in the years to come.”

The whole shebang

Baney says, for the first time, every South African - regardless of where they live, or even whether or not they are banked - will have access to the full range of Mr Price's clothing, footwear and accessories.

Mr Price is known for being competitively priced - by name and by nature - and Baney says the online store's pricing will be no different to that of its brick and mortar chain stores. He says the online shop will allow customers to browse, shop, pay, track orders and return merchandise through any combination of the retailer's Web, mobile, kiosk and physical stores, “a seamless experience across all channels”.

In terms of delivery, Baney says customers can choose to have their order delivered to a private address (work or home), or to a Mr Price store or post office - anywhere in SA. “And no matter how they choose to get their order delivered, no matter where they stay in SA, and no matter what the cost of weight of the order, we charge a flat rate of R35 [to deliver].”

The online store will give customers the option to shop by category, brand, size, price or colour. Baney says the existing Web site, www.mrprice.co.za, will be shut down and replaced with the new e-commerce site, www.mrp.co.za. But, he says, this does not mean it will be a “vanilla” online store, as it will also feature editorial and fashion content.

Online grid

Baney says the site will be linked to social networks Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, as well as to e-mail. “[So if customers] don't want to shop, they can create a wish list and share it with friends.”

Probably the most “exciting” feature, he says, is that Mr Price has built a complete mobile commerce store as well - enabling customers to shop anywhere from a cellphone, tablet or PC. “Because more of our customers access the Internet via cellphone than traditional desktop Internet, we know that this is going to be a hit.”

With over 100 000 Facebook “fans”, Baney says Mr Price knows its customers are online, be it on PCs, tablets or mobile phones. “We just need to educate them on how safe and easy our online shopping proposition will be for them.”

Baney says, while Mr Price expects good sales from its new online offering, the company is also aware there is a long journey ahead of it. “South Africans are not avid online shoppers due to legacy issues. That is changing rapidly though, and we do anticipate good growth over the next few years.”

In terms of online security, Mr Price has partnered with payment gateway and fraud mitigation service provider CyberSource - the same service provider used by Apple's iTunes.

Baney says there are a number of other features the online store will have, including gift-wrapping of purchases and the ability to send gift cards via virtual channels. “But the best way to experience the retail theatre we have built online is to try it.”

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