David Jones Limited (ASX: DJS) has tripled its online sales and the number of customers shopping online have doubled since last month, when the department store retailer started testing its new web and mobile stores. And that’s despite an absence of marketing.

While online sales are still believed to below 1% of total sales, the retailer has stated that it is aiming for it to reach 10% or higher. According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), David Jones has already increased the number of products available online from 9,000 to 80,000 with another 10,000 products to be available before Christmas.

David Robinson, head of the company’s omni-channel strategy, has told the newspaper that David Jones has done ‘six years’ worth of work in six months. While the company is happy with results so far, it still believes there’s plenty more to do. According to the AFR, David Jones plans to add product ratings, customer reviews, videos and express delivery options over the next 6-12 months.

Related: Why I recently bought David Jones

The company also plans to release new web and mobile stores, and a magazine app on Wednesday. Online sales can generate a significant jump in margins because of lower costs. The AFR gave the example of US retailer that generates 10% of its sales online, but those sales translate into 25% of earnings. Myer Holdings Limited (ASX: MYR) boss Bernie Brookes has said that profit margins on online sales could be twice those of normal store sales.

Department store retailers will certainly need to innovate to get customers in-store or shopping online, given the recent heavy falls in department store sales. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data released yesterday, while retail sales rose 0.5%, department store sales had slumped by 3.8%.

Lower GST threshold?

Retailers could also receive a boost if the government lowers the GST threshold for goods sold online through overseas retailers. Sales under $1,000 are currently exempt from GST, but several experts have recommended the government adopt a lower threshold, as a means of garnering significant revenue, and as a way of assisting local retailers. Almost all Western developed countries have a threshold of around $30 equivalent.

Harvey Norman Holdings (ASX: HVN) boss, Gerry Harvey, one of the original agitators for the lower threshold, has told the AFR that he doesn’t care if the government adopts the proposals, and he was giving up. Meanwhile Premier Investments (ASX: PMV) chief, Mark McInnes has said that it was one of the greatest loopholes in the legislation, and the government was responsible for setting it right.

Foolish takeaway

Last year, Bernie Brookes suggested that traditional retailers would dominate online sales within 10 years. Give the impressive results David Jones is achieving so far, he could well be right.

If you only invest in one company this year, make it our “Top Stock for 2012-13”. Operating in two hot markets — one set to double by 2012, the other predicted to grow 5x over the next five years — this stock is a solid growth play that also boasts strong recurring revenue, zero debt, and lots of cash. Get its name and full research case in this brand-new FREE report.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in David Jones. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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