Electrical goods retailer Noel Leeming has opened what it calls its biggest store, Noel Leeming Online.
Planned and developed in-house over the past two years, the site claims a product range of 4000 items.
The site represents the Eric Watson-owned Pacific Retail Group "keeping the faith" in e-commerce, after its fingers were badly burned by its part-ownership of failed etailer FlyingPig, which closed last November.
Pacific Retail Group general manager of retail John Milford says the group learnt from the failure of Flying Pig that "pure-play" websites were not the place to be, but rather "clicks and mortar" operations like the new site.
The website, he says, should succeed where FlyingPig failed by "leveraging" the brand, marketing expertise, distribution, customer base and other assets of the established Noel Leeming brand, an investment the store says amounts to $100 million over 10 years.
Milford says in developing the website, costing an undisclosed "six-figure" amount, the company looked at similar overseas sites by stores such as Macys and Sears of the US and Dixons in Britain, as well as US book retailer Amazon.com.
The website would not operate as a stand-alone entity, but be an integral part of the whole store chain.
Noel Leeming expects many customers to use the website as a reference in helping them make buying decisions.
Based on its research, the chain expects the website will amount to 2.5% of total sales, but it should also boost in-store sales by 5% by pushing more informed customers towards it.
While the website claims a more extensive product range, online payments, exclusive offers, and links to back-end systems, as yet, it cannot offer online credit, despite the Pacific Retail Group having its own credit outlet, Pacific Retail Finance.
Brent Powell, general manager of IT, says current legislation means credit applicants must supply a real signature. While forms can be filled online, they must be signed in a store in front of a staff member, a process which already operates at Pacific Retail's existing Computer City website and stores.
Powell says the Computer City website will continue as before. In addition, Pacific Retail would build on the Noel Leeming website, with websites for its Bond & Bond and Big Byte brands in the coming year.