HARDWARE GIANT BUNNINGS SHUNS ONLINE SHOPPING, PINS HOPES ON CUSTOMERS BEING 'HANDS ON'

HARDWARE GIANT BUNNINGS SHUNS ONLINE SHOPPING, PINS HOPES ON CUSTOMERS BEING 'HANDS ON'
BUNNINGS has no plans to launch a fully transactional e-commerce site in Australia despite the looming threat of US retail giant Amazon entering the market Down Under.

Amazon is expected to offer hardware products through its pure-play e-tail platform but Bunnings is pinning its future on the loyalty of its shoppers who prefer to be "hands on" when they purchase and often need their products on the same day.

Recently appointed Bunnings boss Michael Schneider told the Wesfarmers annual investor and analysts briefing in Sydney that the business will continue with its "bricks and mortar" strategy even though its UK business will have a fully transactional website within 18 months.

"We love the fact that shoppers love coming in and shopping with us. We see ourselves as a very differentiated offer when you come into a store," Schneider says.

Schneider told the briefing that the business receives tens of thousands of feedback messages each year and very few of those request an online store.

The current Bunnings website won't actually sell products but by the end of the year it expects to list 20,000 products and provide information on their availability at its stores.

"One of my real instincts is that 'click and collect' and 'click and reserve' is a vote of no confidence in a business's ability to be in stock and we work really hard to be in stock," Schneider says.

"So, if you get in your car and you drive to Bunnings, it's there and you can get it home," he says.

But Schneider hasn't ruled out the home-improvement and hardware giant ever having a fully transactional website in the future.

"We never say never. I think if you crystal ball it into the future, we won't announce a date or set ourselves a goal because it is something we will do in partnership with our customers."

With its 301 Australian stores, Bunnings continues to gain market share but its Bunnings UK and Ireland business is taking longer than expected to turn around after its $700 million acquisition of Homebase 18 months ago.

The company says the UK and Ireland division will be unprofitable in the second half of 2017 as well as the first half of 2018 after losing $48 million in the December half.

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