A year on from launching online retail store Ferrit, the boys behind the machine are realistic about what they’ve managed to achieve.
Ralph Brayham, general manager, says he entered the business with a bunch of assumptions and very high aspirations.
“In retrospect we’ve hit some targets and missed some but overall it’s been an incredibly exciting year,” he says.
Primarily Brayham says he wanted to break the norm surrounding Telecom and believes his company has been successful in that regard.
“Trying to explain the value proposition to retailers is still a challenge and it amazes me how few people are actually buying new products online.”
Brayham says it’s a struggle to work out what the actual number of online sales is at the figure swings between 1% and .3%.
Based on figures from the US and Europe Brayham says it’s clear New Zealand lags behind the rest of the world.
Now Ferrit is poised to launch into the second phase of operation moving the site from merely search engine to having transaction capability – just in time for the Christmas shopping frenzy.
“We’re really going to be ramping it up for Christmas when shopping is front of mind for most people.”
But Ferrit can only achieve so much, says Brayham, and the retail industry as a whole could be doing more – especially when it comes to displays, suggested selling and product information.
“The better the product information the more likely the sale. Two companies can have the same product listed on Ferrit but the sale will go to the one that provides the best info,” he says.
Meanwhile Peter Wogan, head of marketing, admits the last year has been a steep learning curve but insists it’s made him more committed to the original strategy.
“As with any start-up we’re building the business as we go and are prepared to learn and tweak as we continue. At this stage I’m just dead keen to get on with the next phase,” he says.
While Ferrit may not be front of mind at the moment Wogan says recent marketing campaigns have been directed at getting people trying out the site.
He says research shows the highest traffic on Ferrit is from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, slowing down at weekends.
“I thought employers would be worried about their staff using the site at work but, in fact, employers would rather staff spent 10 minutes on Ferrit than get in the car and drive out to a shopping mall.”
Wogan believes it’s only a matter of time before consumers switch on to the idea of online shopping and warns retailers to be ready.
“Signing with Ferrit doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise and it’s a good idea to get going now. At this point many retailers are using their stores as a picking warehouse for orders so it doesn’t necessarily require a huge investment in stock warehousing.”