P&G aims to boost online sales in Europe

01 September 2009

LONDON: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is adding links to its brand websites in Europe that will direct shoppers to the portals of a range of major retailers selling its products, after a similar initiative helped boost online sales in the US.

As part of the new Where to Buy feature added to the online hubs for P&G's assets, consumers will be provided with details about a number of web properties where they can purchase the brand in question.

This tool has already been introduced for Braun, Olay and Oral-B in the UK, which are connected with websites for Tesco, Boots and Amazon, among others, while Braun and Oral-B are also now using this system in Germany.

Joe Quinn, P&G's head of global ecommerce, said the broader application of this approach will occur "as fast as we can roll it out. It's just a matter of being able to work out the technology linkages with our retailers."

Having launched this model in the US last year for brands like Olay and Pampers, some 80% of P&G's products in its home market now drive traffic to online outlets for retailers including Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Amazon.

Quinn said P&G has "seen double-digit percentage growth over the last several years in regards to online sales," a development that is at least partly attributable to Where to Buy, which greatly simplifies the purchase process on the web.

"The uptick in sales is enough that we are rolling it out to all of our brands globally. There is a direct correlation to sales once you put in the convenience," he added.

More broadly, Quinn cited industry research which predicts that 5% of P&G's sales could come from the internet in the medium-to-long term, up from 1%, or $500 million (€350m; £308m), at present.

Walgreen's Tiffani Washington confirmed there had been "quite an increase in sales of P&G products on Walgreens.com over the last year. We feel fairly certain it is attributable to the Where to Buy feature."

Another major motivation for P&G's new online strategy could be that some major retailers are delisting less popular brands in an effort clear shelf space for their own private label offerings.

Burt Flickinger, managing director of the Strategic Research Group, said that as "retailers pull products off their shelves, selling online can keep some brands from ending up in some sort of P&G brand museum."

"P&G has neglected some of its secondary brands in favor of the top seller but in many cases some of those secondary brands have a nice following."

Among the products Flickinger identified as being potentially vulnerable to this trend in the US were Camay, Procter & Gamble's soap range, as well as L

Data sourced from Cincinnati Inquirer/Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff