Surfing City Beach online

APRIL 2010

SURF retailer City Beach is riding the wave of online commerce with its new website, offering home-delivery of its products, interactive chat rooms and streaming media.

Chief information officer Paul Downs, says the site could match the turnover of the company’s flagship Queen Street store in 18 months.

“It will be a significant contributor to the overall profitability of the business in a few years,” says Downs.

“Australia is a little bit behind the US and Europe in terms of people shopping online, but now the crisis is over and there’s more online retailing going on, the opportunity is for us to be the best to market.

“The opportunity now is that the organisation can provide an online experience and have the product behind that, that customers feel it is secure and effective.”

Downs says another benefit of the online strategy is that the Brisbane-based company can now reach the rural market which has been traditionally harder to access.

“And if that all goes well we’ll have the opportunity to reach out overseas,” he says.

City Beach has 57 stores throughout Australia and is on track to have more than 60 by the end of this year.

The new website had four people involved in its inception and now has a dozen staff providing chat support, designing the page, taking photos of items, distributing and also finding relevant streaming media to post on the site.

“There’s certainly a social commerce side of the site in that we’ve integrated Twitter and Facebook, which feed right into our page and we also have City Beach TV,” says Downs.

“The site changes daily and we post material we feel is relevant to our customers, like a surfing channel, a motocross channel and a BMX channel for instance.”

Marketing manager Chris Somerville, says the interactive platform is the perfect way to broaden global appeal and maintain City Beach’s loyal customer base.

“Customers can ‘talk to’ City Beach about fashions and trends. The site also features blog entries to interest our savvy demographic, which are at the cutting edge of fashion, music and what’s fresh on the street,” says Somerville

“This brings connectivity between our burgeoning national market and our buyers. Word of mouth is paramount to any business and in retail — it can make or break you. We want to be a part of the conversation.

“We have made a massive investment in resources, but it’s an investment in future-proofing our business.”

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