CINCINNATI (AP) — The world's largest consumer products maker says its online shopping store is open for business.
Procter & Gamble Co. said Wednesday the "eStore" is up and running for the general public after months of testing. The Cincinnati-based maker of such household brands as Tide detergent, Pampers diapers, and Olay skin cream has jumped into online retailing with a site operated by Plano, Texas-based PFSweb.
P&G insists the venture's main goal is to learn more about online shopping, and not to compete with stores and online retailers. P&G says it will share the "learning lab" information it gathers and that will help retail partners sell more P&G products.
The site offers $5 flat-rate shipping and also P&G's digital coupons. Initial prices appear comparable to retail stores. P&G says some 2,000 items from across its portfolio are available: one big-brand exception is Pringles snacks, because of shipping quality issues being worked on such as making sure chips don't break
The site is still marked "beta," in what P&G spokeswoman Aja Silvas calls "a nod to show that this is a living learning lab, and a work in progress with the input of our online shoppers."
Major retailers have been building up their Web businesses because of shopping growth online that Forrester Research says has been at double-digit rates. P&G's leaders says only about $500 million — less than 1 percent — of its sales currently come online.
They don't expect their site to have much immediate impact on revenue or profits, but to provide key insights into what works best in digital marketing and shopping.
"We know this where the consumer is going," said Kirk Perry, vice president for North America. "We know she is moving to online shopping every day around the world."
The site, first disclosed in January, will initially be only for U.S. shoppers. P&G plans tie-ins with social media sites such as Facebook and also a mobile phone application.
Perry said P&G has already been sharing findings, such as demand for online coupons and for ease in finding products, from its test group of some 5,000 consumers with retailers.