The Primark website crashed on Monday, shortly after the retailer finally launched its Click & Collect service.
In 25 stores in North West England, Yorkshire, and North Wales, it is launching a trial only for children’s products.
The budget chain, which lost more than £1bn in sales during the pandemic when its stores had to close, has succumbed to the online shopping revolution, but it is not planning deliveries.
Primark said it was aware that some people had issues accessing its site.
“We are working hard to address this to ensure that everyone can access and easily browse the site”, said the company in a statement.
By mid-afternoon, the website appeared to be back up and running for some customers.
The chief executive of the retailer, Paul Marchant said that the launch of the click-and-collect service of Primark was a, for us, “milestone and a really important moment”.
“We are huge brick fans and mortar fans. We believe in stores and believe in the High Street. “We think click-and-collect is the right proposition,” he told the BBC in a rare interview.
The retailer is hoping that giving customers the chance to shop online and then pick up in-store will entice more customers to its stores.
“It is ‘Assembled’ for Christmas perfectly”.
During the pandemic crisis, the 190 UK stores Primark were forced to close, and it had no online operations to fall back on.
But Mr. Marchant says the High Street now seems buoyant again.
“We feel very excited about Christmas. I think that we are pretty well set up. No stores are occupied at all.
It’s the first time in three years that customers have been able to come into the store mask free and restriction-free, and really enjoy the experience of being in a Primark store. Last week, the parent group of Primark, ABF, said that despite rising costs it would freeze prices for Primark clothes beyond what was already planned for this winter.
As the cost of living crisis bites, people have been looking to save money wherever they can. Supermarkets have seen shoppers swapping out of brands to cheaper, own-label products while many people have stockpiled warm clothes to save on heating.
Primark itself says that it’s Snoddie or oversized hoodie has been one of its bestsellers this winter so far.
The retailer has defied the general gloom on the High Street and Mr. Marchant says it has picked up new customers because of the cost of living crisis.
“I think that all the time customers are looking for more value. I think that we at Primark offer them outstanding value. Because of that, I think we attract new customers.”
Is this the new department store?
Primark has also improved its game at its largest “destination” stores, like its large Manchester City Centre one, with cafés, a barber shop, a vintage concession store, and pop-up spaces to personalize Primark products.
“We are, I think, the new department store because I think we offer something for everyone but done in a new and exciting way”, says Marchant.
And this now includes dipping its toe in the world of e-commerce.
Analyze analyst Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO, and founder of Savvy Marketing, says Primark is simply bowing to the inevitable.
They’ve had massive highly successful physical store growth, not just in the UK and Ireland but also across the world. However, this dependency on a store-only format has its limitations as Primark found their cost during the Pandemic “in the retail lockdowns “.
An online presence not only allows them to reach customers who can’t easily access a store, or who don’t have time to queue up – so they want flexibility when and where they visit. She says click-and-collect may also become important for the hordes of Primark fans to get their hands on products quickly before they sell out.
Given the costs of fulfilling and delivering online orders, and dealing with high-level returns, it can be difficult for retailers to make the economics of e-commerce stack up.
“Online is a huge commercial undertaking and logistics for a business with the size and scale of Primark are enormous. Click-and-collect is the most sensible way to run this operation not least because it allows returns to be placed back into the store stock to help keep costs down,” says Ms. Shuttleworth.