JB Hi-Fi online covers all the bases: CEO Terry Smart

By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: Online offerings boil down to either one, or a combination of, two things: commerce and marketing. Appliance specialists E&S Trading, for example, offer both but admit that the primary purpose of their wesite is to drive traffic to stores. The purpose of JB Hi-Fi’s website is a little more balanced, as the company is happy to settle the deal either in-store or online.

“For us it’s about providing information and convenience. All we care about is that we get to deal with the customer and if that means they come in the store then that is good for us, if they decide to buy online then we would rather have that business than give it up,” Terry Smart told Current.com.au.

“Our online site itself is all about an extension of the store. It is about the store, about the offering that we have, the specials that we’ve currently got running.

“If people then want to buy they can click to buy as well. It’s really to cover all the bases – to allow people to research but if they want to buy online they can.”

The company acknowledges that online sales are a small percentage of total sales (up 8 per cent for the first half of the financial year), but says they are growing and online business is an important part of the overall strategy.

“We would anticipate that it will continue to grow as people continue to look as online as a convenient option to buy.”

Interestingly and unlike other CE retailers such as Harvey Norman and Bing Lee, JB Hi-Fi does not engage in the social media landscape.

“No, we don’t communicate directly with social media. The only reason is that social media is just another cost; it’s a cost that at this point in time we’re not ready to employ. We do use it [in that] we get a lot of word of mouth out there. We’re not saying it’s not something we’re not looking at; just that at this point in time we don’t have the resources to handle it.”

The retailer recognises social media as a worthy investment and for now it is biding its time whilst watching other retailers deploy the tools and see how it works out for them. Already this year we have seen two major retailers make faux pas via Twitter and Facebook.

“We see that it will form a part of our ongoing strategy.”

“[Social media has] got to be genuine, you’ve really got to make sure you manage it well and make sure you’re engaging in a genuine way with people. It can’t be perceived as just a grab for advertising. And for us we’ve got a good word of mouth out there, a good reputation and we don’t want to tarnish that by not doing it the right way.”

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