8/30/11

Dollar General will sell online

A late entry to e-retail, the discount chain plans to introduce its e-commerce site Sept. 8.

Allison Enright , Editor

Dollar General Corp., a strip-mall staple for deep discounts on everyday products such as soap and snacks, says it will debut its e-commerce site Sept. 8. The site will operate at dollargeneral.com, the same web address as the company’s current corporate site.

Dollar General says the e-commerce site will help the company reach new shoppers and existing store customers. The retailer operates more than 9,500 stores in 35 states and says it has more stores than any other retailer in the United States. Stores are an average of 7,200 square feet and carry about 10,000 to 12,000 SKUs, a quarter of which retail for $1 or less. Dollar General reported $13.0 billion in sales in its most recent fiscal year and net income of $628 million. A company spokeswoman says customers with household incomes of $70,000 or more is the retailer's fastest-growing customer segment.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., by comparison, operates more than 4,400 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in the United States. Wal-Mart’s non-grocery discount stores average about 108,000 square feet. Walmart.com is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. It sells 1 million products online, where it began selling in 2000.

The Dollar General spokeswoman declined say why Dollar General didn't start e-commerce operations sooner. She says the retailer sees the expansion now as a natural extension of its market positioning of offering convenience and value to customers. 

Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO, says DollarGeneral.com will help extend this positioning. “We have streamlined the online shopping experience, giving customers what they need, as well as what they want,” he says.

The e-retail site is built on GSI Commerce's platform and the vendor will handle payments, fulfillment and customer service for dollargeneral.com. GSI's True Action Network agency will handle digital marketing for DollarGeneral.com. GSI was bought this year by eBay Inc.

The site will sell brand-name products, the retailer’s private-label products and some items that aren’t available in its stores. Product categories covered include health and beauty, cleaning supplies, baby items, toys, holiday merchandise, home décor, stationery and snacks. The company says many of the products sold online will be available in bulk and as single items. Customers can pay with credit or debit cards, or use PayPal. Dollar General doesn't have any plans to offer pick-up of online orders at its retail stores at this time, a company spokeswoman says.

Dollar Tree Inc., a competing discount retailer with 4,242 stores in 48 states and Canada that sells its products for $1 or less, has sold online since 2009. Most products on the site have to be bought in quantities of four or more or by the case. It offers consumers free shipping if consumers pick them up in a Dollar Tree store.

Topics:

bulk purchases, Canada, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, dollargeneral.com, e-commerce platform, GSI Commerce, online discounts, private-label products, retail chain, Rick Dreiling, Wal-Mart

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