By Claire Reilly

Despite existing in the Australian retail landscape for 175 years, and beginning postal orders as early as 1890, David Jones has been a self-confessed “late mover” in the online retailing space. 

The brand has had an online presence for some time, but has only recently launched a revamped multichannel offering with a strong focus on cross-platform access and content-rich interaction. 

While David Jones CEO Paul Zahra said in 2011 that the company’s online business was a “growth opportunity in the medium to long term,” the company is now pushing its e-commerce credentials as a major priority.

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Speaking at the Online Retailer Conference & eCommerce Expo in Sydney today, David Jones’ general manager of marketing in digital and advertising Adriane McDermott said the department store was rising to the challenge of e-commerce.

 “Over the years, DJs has faced the many challenges that we all face in the retail sector,” she said. “It’s about meeting that challenge.”

 As part of its omnichannel relaunch, David Jones worked with a number of partners, including IBM, to develop a new website, a transactional mobile site, mobile device apps and a strong social media offering in order to reach more customers.

 “What we were hearing from our customers was that they wanted to be entertained,” said McDermott. “They wanted to get what they want when they wanted it, not when we wanted to give it to them. They wanted to be inspired, to participate with our brand.

“Customer expectations have absolutely accelerated what we do. So partly to respond to that is the transformation that our marketing and our online strategy really embarked on. I call it, moving from ‘acquisition marketing’ to ‘relationship marketing’.”

This marketing shift saw David Jones focus more of its energy and resources on creating a strong brand experience for consumers, from the way they interacted with purchasing (including mobile commerce and a ‘tap to shop’ feature on smartphones) to the way they interacted with the brand (such as the opportunity to watch a live stream of David Jones’ catwalk fashion show. 

The result was a single brand message that could be pushed out through multiple channels, rather than a marketing strategy that focused on the channel first and then developed content to suit.

According to McDermott, it was about “allowing people to connect with us in new ways digitally, as well as physically…and doing it in a way that was uniquely ‘David Jones’. 

McDermott said a multi-channel shopping experience is not about the technology but rather about the actual brand offering. 

“There’s a lot of enabling technology and there are a lot of opportunities to implement that technology, but it all comes down to the quality of the content.”