E-commerce working for electronics retailers

The search for better prices in electronics and electrical equipment is turning an increasing number of consumers to online shopping sites, where they can easily spot special offers and prices as low as 30 percent below the retail price asked at traditional stores. At the same time, they can also see what offers are being made by stores and make their purchases at the click of the mouse.

This rising trend has made the development and technical support of companies? online shops a number one priority. It is estimated that in 2011, total turnover in Greece?s electronics and electronic appliances market reached 2.3 billion euros, of which 7-8 percent was via e-commerce. Moreover, a recent study by the European Commission found that 66 percent of consumers who make online purchases are compelled by the lower prices.

The big question that emerges from these developments is whether and to what extent e-commerce ?steals? business away from stores. Market professionals respond that the level of penetration of e-commerce in Greek households is still too insignificant for any serious concern, while arguing that online stores tend to have a supplementary function to companies? physical networks and as such one line of commerce does not adversely affect the other.

?I believe that the percentage of household appliances? online sales will continue to increase and will reach double digits in the near future,? said Costas Stratis, commercial director for Dixons Southeast Europe.

Electronic appliances are among the most popular items with online consumers, who enjoy the fact that they can compare prices between different companies easily and spot special offers.

?Household appliances are the fourth category of goods in top demand on the website, which specializes in price comparison and lists all the offers being made at electronics shops,? said Skroutz sales manager Giorgos Avgoustidis. ?Last December, for example, we had 700,000 searches in this category of goods, when for computers, which is the top category in online sales, we had 1 million.?

Giorgos Bourlekas, general manager of electronics retailer Electronet, explained that ?the search for bargains has driven consumers to make purchases online, where there are a number of e-shops making attractive offers. This has increased the number of electronic sales significantly, especially for electronic retail chains, which buyers are familiar with and therefore feel a sense of security.?

?The trend emerging in the market is toward developing online sales, where consumers look for cheaper prices, putting pressure on the mixed profit margins of stores,? Georgios Argyrakis, senior sales manager of Sony Hellas, said at a recent conference on the electronics market in Greece. ?Within this context, companies have to focus on creating or maintaining their online sales networks.?

UK-based Dixons is active in Greece through two e-shops, and Electronet, meanwhile, is this year aiming to advance its online store, launched last June, which has seen 1,200 orders since September, with 50 percent of purchases made in audiovisual and computing equipment.

At the same time, Media Markt, which does not have an e-shop, last November developed a webpage that allows consumers to place orders on items advertised as being on offer, though the site does not offer a delivery service so consumers have to pick up their purchases from the nearest store. This tactic allows the German retailer to have a presence on websites specializing in price comparisons without having to go to the expense of maintaining an online store.

Get It Now has developed an original strategy by maintaining a physical presence around Greece and specializing in telephone and Internet sales. The company was set up in March 2010 and belongs to the Digital Shopping Group. It began with 30 distribution points around Greece, specializing in sales, pricing and customer services.