E-Store gets cashed up

The paperwork is all but signed, sealed and delivered for the buy-out of online retailer E-Store, with an announcement expected by December 21.

But the signs of a financial injection are already becoming apparent as the e-tailer launches a new product category, new call centre and online tracking to provide better service for its customers.

The buy-out heralds a new era for the retailer, which was placed in administration in October. It also ends months of uncertainty for chief executive officer Steven Spilly.

"It certainly is a relief," he told ARN. "The last two and a half months have been very unstable. Originally, we decided we wouldn't take on a partner, because the e-tail space isn't exactly flushed with cash, but this group came out of the blue and they had a lot more to offer us as a potential partner than other companies."

Thanks to the financial support of the unnamed US buyer, E-Store has also taken over management of its fulfilment operations, providing members with online tracking of orders using TNT's WebTracker Service and activated a new customer service call centre.

"They were things we were working on, but we managed to implement in three weeks what would have taken four months because of the additional management and financial support," Spilly said.

The retailer has also expanded to offer a range of books. The category, which went live two days ago, has already attracted considerable interest from customers, Spilly said.

"We believe we offer the largest range available online in Australia and the prices should be the lowest anywhere," he said.

All E-Store staff have been retained and new staff members are being recruited. It is a stark contrast from two months ago when fulfilment woes forced the company into administration.

"Goods were being double and triple shipped by a supplier, and for two months we were not able to track this. It caused us a loss because we had to settle the dispute quickly," Spilly explained.

The problem was further exacerbated by the collapse of HIH - as suppliers tightened their terms on debtors.

"Management of fulfilment was one variable that caused us issues. Now it is a constant. We don't hold onto stock for more than 12 hours and customers can now track the status of their delivery all the way through, so we have closed that loop in our business model. It was something we had been thinking about for more than a year, and now that it is operational the difference is radical -- up to 300 or 400 per cent better."

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