WHSmith has launched a new website, WHSmithEntertainment.co.uk
, offering music, games, DVDs and consoles plus a range of electronics and computing accessories.
"The aim is to offer an immediate entertainment range for our online customers and we will continue to review how we develop the offer," a spokesperson has told Retail Week
, which also reports on a generally negative reaction by analysts to the new site:
Numis analyst Nick Coulter said the website launch was "odd" as WHSmith has been committed to reducing its entertainment lines.
He said: "Part of its cost savings have come from taking entertainment products off the shopfloor. But it's sensible to preserve some sort of scale in entertainment. And if you already have a supply chain it would take very little effort to have a strong web presence."
The website has been marketed via an email campaign and is also accessed via a click-through button from its Whsmith.co.uk site, which sells products such as books and stationery.
Nielsen Online analyst Alex Burmaster said: "Entertainment online is experiencing quite strong growth. This move makes sense if things aren't working in store."
However, he added that it is "surprising" that a retailer would choose to create a separate site. He said: "It has the potential to confuse customers. Transferring customers to another site does not pay off in the long term."