CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble Co. plans to pilot an online store this month in conjunction with e-commerce solution provider PFSweb Inc.
Describing the effort as an "e-commerce learning lab," the companies said Friday the online shopping site — dubbed the eStore — will be owned and operated by Plano, Texas-based PFSweb and exclusively feature P&G products for U.S. consumers.
Plans call for the eStore to go live this spring after a pilot run of the site with 5,000 consumers, which the companies said will begin in the coming weeks.
According to P&G and PFSweb, the eStore will test innovative e-commerce concepts that offer growth opportunities for online sales of various consumer product categories.
Although the notion of a P&G shopping site would seem to pose competitive issues with the consumer products giant’s retail partners, executives noted that the site will help retailers by giving them insight on how customers shop online and respond to ads, promotions and other marketing vehicles.
"We are very excited about the eStore’s potential to reach more consumers and create new online experiences and innovations that build our brands online," Kirk Perry, P&G’s vice president for North America, said in a statement. "Ultimately, our goal in working with an experienced e-commerce business like PFSweb is to test concepts and programs that can be reapplied with all of our online retail partners in ways that exponentially grow consumer affinity for our brands and mutually increase sales for P&G and our retailer partners."
As more consumers have embraced Internet shopping, the scope of product categories in which they are interested in making purchases has broadened, according to Mark Layton, chief executive officer of PFSweb.
"With each new product category comes the opportunity to develop and test marketing, selling and retention concepts," Layton explained. "In working with P&G on our eStore, we’re looking forward to uncovering new insights and innovations that deliver on the potential of e-commerce as a powerful sales channel for a wide range of consumer products."
P&G said it initiated the eStore concept and has been working its ideas for test concepts and programs with PFSweb. Product pricing, promotion, shelving and distribution will be at the discretion of PFSweb. P&G added that it will work closely with PFSweb to identify new concepts, programs and marketing efforts to test through the eStore.
The companies said the eStore will test various concepts aimed at strengthening relationships with consumers and providing e-commerce insights for categories such as beauty and grooming, health and wellness, and household care. These test-and-learn initiatives include subscription models and cross-selling capabilities, targeted iMedia and search ads, and the integration of social media with the online store.
According to PFSweb research, consumers expect the brand web sites they visit to be the best sources of information about the range of products offered, including access to packaging, size and product variations that meet their needs.
"Consumers today also want to be ‘in-the-know’ about upcoming new products and advancements and be able to readily gain access to promotional offers and other new and exciting product information," remarked Layton.
He added that PFSweb will power the eStore through the Demandware Inc. e-commerce platform in combination with PFSweb’s retail services and infrastructure.