Landmark touts e-commerce growth, but tight-lipped on user engagement

Dubai retail group not ready to share figures on active accounts, profitability

Tags: E-commerceLandmark GroupUnited Arab Emirates
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Landmark touts e-commerce growth, but tight-lipped on user engagement Jagtiani: We want to do what’s best for the customer.
By  Stephen McBride Published  April 16, 2015

Dubai based retail conglomerate Landmark Group today hailed its e-commerce unit for its growth, but shared little information to support its claims.

Landmark has a number of well-known brands in its portfolio and, to date, has launched five (Splash, Babyshop, Emax, Lifestyle and Max) on its e-retail portal, landmarkshops.com. Two more brands are set to be included in the e-stable by the end of 2015, but Landmark declined to name them.

The company cited its omni-channel business model as key to its 200% growth in the financial year to April 2015. Pay-and-collect services remain in effect, with collection centres in Oasis Centre and Mirdif City Centre in Dubai.

As other online retailers, such as JadoPado, abandon cash-on-delivery orders in favour of lower-overhead online payments, Landmark has retained the practice, in the hope of retaining customers who have little trust in the security of paying online.

"We want to do what's best for the customer and the data that we're seeing tells us that 65% of our orders are cash on delivery with the rest being online payments," said Savitar Jagtiani, business head, E-commerce, Landmark.

"Any online retailer will want to maximise their online payments because there are higher return rates and higher costs associated with [cash on delivery]. We hope that as the market matures, COD might start to [be less in demand than] online payment deliveries."

Landmark hopes this strategy will lead to a further doubling of sales in FY 2015-2016, but a dearth of hard financial data gives little context to growth figures. Landmark's 50,000-strong workforce manages an inventory of around 30,000 unique products, but Jagtiani declined to reveal figures on the size of the company's e-commerce user base or monthly unique visitors to its portal. He likewise ducked questions on the proportion of total sales that occurred online.

"[Our vision] is to deliver a world-class customer experience of simplicity, value, choice and convenience," said Jagtiani. "From a philosophical point of view and a business point of view the customer experience is absolutely sacrosanct."

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, in October last year, famously accused global e-retail giant Amazon.com of never having turned a profit. Despite refusing comment on whether Landmark's e-commerce unit had ever broken even, Jagtiani, when asked by ITP.net if the company had plans to make its e-commerce unit profitable, said: "Absolutely, it's incredibly important."

His dichotomy suggests that, despite the growth figures, Landmark is not there yet.

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