The World’s Best Retail Web Sites

During our recent ice storm in the DFW area, I spent some time cleaning out my office. I had set aside a December 2012 issue of Internet Retailer magazine that was very prescient – a year ago I was still receiving the hard copy, but have since switched to digital. The cover suggested

“The Hot 100 – The World’s Best Retail Websites”.2013Hot100_3DCover_500x500_jpg_200x200_crop_q95

At the time, I was intrigued by the mix of those suggested as the best.

In particular, I gravitated to the listing for TrunkClub.com. In previous posts I had suggested that Trunk Club was a decent business model with some flaws that showed through in the delivery. I still stand by those suggestions. The remainder of this post is not to tear down Trunk Club, but rather to look at how we define and follow websites from a commerce perspective.

As I was looking over this article again, a different thought stood out to me. Is Trunk Club really a “retail website”?

Yes, they have a website.

Yes, they sell retail apparel and accessories to men.

But, to me, it is not a retail website – there is no eCommerce that is taking place. The site itself is used to market its services. It goes further in capturing leads and showing types of items it sells. The final sale is based on an offline experience (and not transacted on the website). Goods arrive to the customer after talking or emailing with a stylist. Selections are made by the consumer and returns are processed back at the distribution point. What is purchased is not done with a traditional website cart; therefore, it is not a retail website.

I know it sounds like I am splitting hairs. However, there is substantial debate about the differences between eCommerce and multi-channel or omnicommerce. I subscribe to the latter omnicommerce view. I believe that multiple channels co-exist to provide an overall user experience that increases conversion and builds businesses. To put Trunk Club in the same “top 100” class as other websites that acquire and retain customers that transact online is giving an accolade to Trunk Club that should be reserved for a real retail website.

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