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Fundamentals not Very good at Littlewoods Direct

Shop Direct Group is certainly keeping itself busy at the moment. It has just launched the new Woolworths website and on Sunday (July 5) will unveil its overhauled Littlewoods Direct site that will be rebranded as ‘Very’ and have a focus on younger customers. It will also start selling to other countries from next month. By Glynn Davis, City editor

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Fundamentals not Very good at Littlewoods Direct

Shop Direct Group is certainly keeping itself busy at the moment. It has just launched the new Woolworths website and on Sunday (July 5) will unveil its overhauled Littlewoods Direct site that will be rebranded as ‘Very’ and have a focus on younger customers. It will also start selling to other countries from next month. By Glynn Davis, City editor

The Woolworths site is understood to have required minimal investment and so would not be anything more than an embarrassment to the company if it fails to live up to the hopes of Shop Direct Group chief exe
cutive Mark Newton-Jones who is predicting profitability within the site's first year of operation.

The rebranding exercise of Littlewoods Direct strikes me as being a different matter altogether as it not only marks a switch in the look and branding of the site to become the more fashionable Very but also shifts the focus more strongly onto the younger shopper - in the 25 to 45 age bracket.

This sounds a sensible move as Littlewoods Direct was already attracting many of these people but the removal of the Littlewoods name and a concerted effort to convince new younger shoppers to try the site will undoubtedly have it risks. It could lose some of its existing shoppers who feel comfortable with its link to the established Littlewoods brand.

What is more worrying however, is that Shop Direct Group is taking on board so much change when it might not have nailed some of the fundamentals of online retailing within its existing operations.

Littlewoods Direct performed particularly poorly in the recent testing of the top 50 UK retail sites, undertaken for The Retail Bulletin by Sitemorse, with it committing schoolboy errors like broken links and missing titles on many of its web pages. It is hoped that these issues will have been addressed as part of the rebranding, provided management has not spread itself too thinly to focus on small but important details.

glynnd@theretailbulletin.com

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