E-Commerce Holdout Marshalls Is Finally Embracing the Internet

(Bloomberg) -- Marshalls, owned by TJX Cos. Inc., likes being known for its “treasure hunt” experience -- where shoppers rummage through a seemingly random assortment of dishware, clothes and other products for items that might not appear in any other store. Now it’s going to try to replicate this online.

TJX Chief Executive Officer Ernie Herrman said the company would start an e-commerce business for its Marshalls brand later this year. The company’s current website offers a store locator, gift cards and some photos and other features -- but no merchandise for sale.

It’s debatable whether Marshalls actually needs e-commerce: While other retailers have suffered with the rise of Amazon.com Inc. and other online rivals, TJX’s chains Marshalls and T.J. Maxx have maintained their allure, in part because of the excitement of not knowing what you’ll find. The company on Wednesday cited customer traffic “at every division” for fourth-quarter sales that exceeded expectations.

Comparable sales -- a key gauge of a retailer’s popularity -- rose 6 percent at parent company TJX in the period, exceeding analysts’ average estimate of 3.5 percent estimate.

Sister company T.J. Maxx already has a website, though e-commerce continues to be a small but growing part of the business, TJX Chief Financial Officer Scott Goldenberg said on the company’s earnings call on Wednesday. Started in 2013, Herrman said Marshalls would use that experience as a blueprint. The company hopes to drive traffic at its locations via the website via in-store returns for online orders, he said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.