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City Beach Australia Surfs Social Network
Australia's largest surf and skate fashion retailer City Beach has launched a new online channel set to bolster market share in the ultra competitive youth market with a fresh interactive experience that reflects the vibrant surf and skate culture
By: Louise Wysoczanski
The nation’s largest surf retailer has partnered with IBM for its new online store to deliver a fresh interactive experience that reflects the vibrant surf and skate culture.
The site www.citybeach.com.au includes the latest YouTube videos, celebrity blogs, tweets and industry news.
City Beach marketing manager Chris Somerville, says the interactive platform is the perfect way for the brand to stay connected to its loyal customer base and to broaden its global appeal.
“E-commerce in Australia is taking off and City Beach is finding that its best location is online where it is able to extend its reach to new customers and markets,” said Mr Somerville.
“Customers can ‘talk to’ City Beach about fashions and trends. The site also features blog entries to interest our savvy demographic, which are at the cutting edge of fashion, music and what’s fresh on the street. This way, they have a reason to keep coming back.
“This brings connectivity between our burgeoning national market and our buyers. Word of mouth is paramount to any business and in retail, it can make or break you. We want to be a part of the conversation.”
City Beach has transformed its small web presence to become a dominant Australian retail leader. The business will effectively leverage the growing influence of online social networks bringing brand and product discussions back to its site and converting them into transactions.
The retailer is forecasting a modest growth in sales this year as a result of the online channel, set to improve year on year once the site becomes an integral component of its marketing ethos.
Since flicking the switch on www.citybeach.com.au in November, online traffic has increased by 400 per cent.
“Online trading is at the crossroads in Australia and it’s about to go to the next level,” explained Mr Somerville.
“As far as acceptance, Australia is where the US was six or seven years ago. We are thinking fast and on our feet now. The environment is fast changing and we need to stay with it.”
The site is powered by IBM WebSphere Commerce, implemented by Salmon Asia Pacific.
Paul Downs, Chief Information Officer, with overall responsibility for delivering the new channel said: “The Websphere Commerce project is core to the significant infrastructure changes we are making to underpin business growth and profitability. This platform provides our organization the flexibility to expand both internationally and into new digital channels at an appropriate juncture.”
The retail industry is becoming increasing fragmented and competitive as consumers traverse across multiple channels and researching products online, visiting the store and making purchases through the call centre - making it difficult for retailers to track shopping habits.
By aligning the in-store and on-line shopping experience, City Beach is able to leverage its online presence to drive in-store traffic. The site’s ‘gig guide’ includes store events, entertainment including instore DJs and celebrity visits.
City Beach has 57 stores throughout Australia and is home to iconic brands such as Billabong, etnies, Roxy and Ripcurl. The retailer has opened six stores per year average and is on track to have more than 60 outlets by the end of 2010.
“We have made a massive investment in resources, but it’s an investment in future proofing our business,” said Mr Somerville
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About City Beach: Established in 1985 in a 170 square metre store in Brisbane, City Beach has grown to become Australia's largest and most dynamic surf and skate retailer.
From humble beginnings to the current day, our commitment to large format retail destinations has secured our position as store of choice for the 10 - 26 age demographic. By staying in touch with the ever-changing trends of our customers City Beach has morphed from a respected retail outlet into a major part of Australia's youth culture and lifestyle.
Our people are our strength, being a major employer of youth with thousands of young, vibrant staff members.
City Beach provides a unique shopping experience by creating an environment that goes beyond retail. We are constantly assessing what it is that our customer wants from us. From that, we develop an in-store and online experience that is unmatched by any other retailer who targets our demographic.