E-FILES: Pig ready for Christmas market

New Zealand's largest online retail outlet plans to meet the Christmas rush head on.

www.flyingpig.co.nz

New Zealand's largest online retail outlet plans to meet the Christmas rush head on.

Marketing manager Fiona Jefferis says FlyingPig enjoyed sales "spikes" around retail events such as Mother's and Father's Day, and like most retailers plans for Christmas to be one of its largest sales periods for the year. It expects the weeks of December to generate as much turnover as two months of normal trading.

Revving up the organisation at Christmas time means employing extra staff for gift wrapping and other customer services that can't be automated. Extra stock will be held in its warehouse to cope with the demand.

Jefferis says the site experienced some growing pains last Christmas. FlyingPig had launched only one month before, and had a "huge number" of hits. Another server was quicly purchased to accommodate the higher-than-expected volume. Today the site is much better equipped for a larger audience, says Jefferis.

The site is hosted in Wellington, running on Compaq hardware and a Microsoft NT commerce server platform. New Zealand’s Advantage Group and Sydney integrator XT3 built the site.

Despite the rush, Jefferis says all products were delivered on time over the holiday period. She says this took a huge commitment from the FlyingPig team with staff delivering products right up to Christmas Eve.

Marketing is key with online retail. "As internet shopping is similar to any mail order we are trying to put in as many incentives as possible to drive our customers to order early for Christmas," she says. For example, free gift wrapping and a Christmas banquet prize. Last-minute shopping adds further pressure, in that half of the Pig's product range is from overseas, "so we prefer having a few extra days for delivery in these cases".

Items most people are ordering online at FlyingPig are Gladiator on DVD, the Star Wars Trilogy re-release on video, Jeff Wilson's autobiography Seasons of Gold, and garden pots.

Advertising activity for Christmas is happening mostly online, by targeted newsletter and certain web placements. The plan is "to ensure we are reaching those most likely to purchase online," says Jefferis.

Jefferis' advice to online retailers? Buy the products you supply, rather than manufacturing them, and move away from the technology edge to use proven systems.

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