The consumer products powerhouse along with ecommerce service provider PFSweb is testing an online store called PGeStore.com. Although the Web site is owned and operated by PFSweb, it will exclusively sell P&G products directly to consumers.
Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Tressie Long said the eStore's main objective is to be a learning lab for the company.
"Consumers are spending a lot more time researching and shopping online," she said. "This is an opportunity for our catalog of brands to be available to them, test new product concepts and engage directly with consumers."
Long said P&G will not manage the inventory, set prices for its products or shipping rates on eStore. "We will only decide what to test," she said. "We're not a retailer and we're not aspiring to be one."
The eStore will launch this spring when 5,000 consumers will be able to test the concept.
But Wendy Liebmann, president of retail consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, suspects that P&G may have bigger aspirations with the eStore.
"There's surely more going on here," she said. "So far P&G's Web strategy has been to drive traffic to retailers' stores and Web sites." But as retailers reduce the number of brands they want to carry in their stores she added that the e-Store may become a home for those discarded brands.
"P&G is boldly moving into the white space, challenging retailers for their share of shoppers," said Liebmann.
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