South African clothing, footwear and textiles (CFT) retailing group, Edcon, will expand its e-business today (27 May), when it opens the e-commerce door to its Red Square brand. 
Already home to Edgars, Jet, CNA and Boardmans – and following the successful launch of its CNA online operation in May 2012 – the group will present its prominent beauty retail chain, Red Square, as the biggest specialist cosmetics brand to launch online in South Africa.
Its base of approximately 4-million account card holders will be able to purchase on the site using Edgars or Jet store cards while also earning Thank U points.
Red Square offers an extensive range of international and national branded make-up, skincare and fragrance.
The Web site will extend the cosmetic retailer’s already extensive and growing national footprint of 39 stores and will carry almost 3 000 products.
When asked why Red Square was chosen to step through the e-commerce portal, Edcon e-commerce executive David Gibbons explains: “Cosmetics is a great category for e-commerce. It’s easy to ship and lends itself to online shopping.
“Customers often know exactly what they’re looking for and a website can provide them with easy browsing of a huge range, good product information, customer reviews and insight about new products, for a rich shopping experience.
“Furthermore, women who have Internet access spend far more time than men shopping for beauty and cosmetics online, as shown in an international comScore study which reveals women over-index most heavily in the fragrances/cosmetics category (6,6% reach for females versus 3,1% for males).
“In developing countries a Nielsen study shows that 64% of women feel they are the most appropriate decision maker for health and beauty purchases.”
One particular element of the online stores’ offering is a free sampling programme that gives customers the opportunity to select three samples from a wide range of premium brands and these will be included free-of-charge with every online order.
“It’s a wonderful way to discover exciting new products that you might not have tried otherwise and our research showed sampling to try at home is one of the key customer needs,” says Gibbons.
Gibbons also emphasises the importance of a trusted brand in the online space and the ability to serve customers via the most convenient channel for each of their shopping trips.
“Customers seldom shop exclusively either on- or off-line, so being multichannel is an important part of the value proposition, and having physical stores where product can be exchanged is perceived as a big benefit by consumers.”
Gibbons is upbeat about the future on online retail.
“Since 46% of Top End South African women with Internet access shop online often or sometimes, according to an internal study done, and 22% of women globally shop online at least once a day, this is a market that is set to grow.
“Also it’s important to bear in mind that 92% of these women will share information with friends and family about deals and positive experiences. This is word-of-mouth advertising that cannot be ignored.”