Given that the main reason John Lewis bought Buy.com was to gain its technology, the move is hardly unexpected. It should strengthen John Lewis’s online brand and increase Johnlewis.com’s site traffic – both sensible objectives. However, Johnlewis.com’s limited range of technology products will drive away some of Buy.com’s customers.
John Lewis is to merge the buy.com website it acquired last year with its own site, Johnlewis.com.
The UK’s John Lewis Partnership is to close its technology eTail site Buy.com and merge it with its own website, Johnlewis.com. The latter proved popular over the Christmas period, receiving more than 1,000 orders per day. John Lewis will open a technology shop on its own website, in the hope that Buy.com’s 200,000 customers will switch over to Johnlewis.com. In an effort to maximize the crossover, all traffic to Buy.com will be automatically directed to Johnlewis.com from March.
Buy.com sells a range of around 15,000 technology products. Johnlewis.com’s new technology shop will offer between 1,000 and 2,000 of the most popular products. However, while this will increase the John Lewis range, it may not satisfy Buy.com customers.
John Lewis bought Buy.com in February 2001 to strengthen its Internet operations. It has certainly achieved this, gaining staff with the experience of creating and managing an eTail site, and the skills required to build an online presence. An indication of Buy.com’s importance is that John Lewis will not cut any jobs – its 75 staff will go to work at Johnlewis.com.
The decision to merge sites will couple the eTail skills and the large customer base of Buy.com with the stronger ‘bricks and mortar’ brand name of John Lewis. It will also substantially increase traffic to the johnlewis.com site. In addition, the merger will offer operational cost savings.
If the move goes according to plan, Johnlewis.com could become a major player in UK eTailing; it should certainly secure further leverage for its brand and product range in the eCommerce sphere. However, not all of Buy.com’s customers will switch to the John Lewis site, which offers considerably fewer technology products. It remains to be seen how many of them John Lewis can hook.