Webtogs goes multinational, multichannel

Outdoor-goods etailer Webtogs is extending its reach by accepting
international orders online and establishing a retail presence.
Although it had not intended to open the website to customers in
Continental Europe until the fourth quarter of 2009, Webtogs
brought forward its plans to March. Customers from the European
Union can now buy from its site and pay in euros. This follows
the company’s decision earlier in the month to open a
bricks-and-mortar store in Blandford, Dorset, not far from the
company’s base in Gillingham.

These developments are all the more impressive when you consider
that Webtogs is barely a year old. “We opened online
because we didn’t think online shops were getting the basics
right,” said cofounder Philip Wilkinson, formerly of
Shopgenie and Kelkoo UK. By “basics” he means
customer-service elements such as next-day delivery and no-hassle
returns. “We wanted to show offline as well how we thought
things should be done.”

Webtogs is approaching retail expansion cautiously. “If the
shop works, there will be more, but they have to be ‘different’.
No pushy salespeople-think Apple Store.” He confirmed that
Webtogs has identified another two possible locations for stores,
which like the Blandford shop would sell only footwear; the
website sells outdoor clothing and camping gear as well.

Webtogs expects the Blandford store to have turnover of
£250,000 in its first year. That’s a “tiny”
percentage of the website turnover, said Wilkinson. Online, the
business has “smashed” its targets. By the end of
2009 Wilkinson expects sales to be up by at least 300 percent
from last year.

There’s one more card left up Wilkinson’s sleeve: “There
will be a Webtogs catalogue by the end of the year.” Maybe
just a small best-sellers booklet sent out with product
despatches, he said, but a catalogue nonetheless.

Published: 6th April 2009


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