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EDITORIAL How the role of the store is changing as customers do more of their shopping online


In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as the latest figures show shoppers now starting to head out to stores again post Covid-10 lockdown. But when they do go, suggests ShopperTrak’s Andy Sumpter, they are engaging in more “purposeful shopping”. That suggests shopping trips where customers already know what they want and are making a trip specially to get it, list in hand. This is just one of the directions that the role of the shop in multichannel retail is likely to evolve over coming months and years.

 

But it seems this isn’t enough for multichannel retailers including Boots and John Lewis to keep all of their existing shops open. Both announced shop closures this week that threaten 5,300 jobs. As they did so, both cited the shift to online shopping during lockdown that has now accelerated their digital transformation plans. These retailers are looking to a future where shoppers are happy to make more of their purchases online. John Lewis says that it’s seen online shopping rise from 40% of turnover as a result of lockdown – and predicts it may soon account for as much as 70% of its sales. That has huge implications for the future of shops. But it’s notable that even as John Lewis predicts that massive change it’s still keeping most of its larger department stores operating. The eight shops that will close will do so because they were financially challenged even before the pandemic. It’s easy to see why it would close shops close to transport hubs that are now running and much lower capacity than previously as more people discover they can work at home just as effectively as in an office. It’s also interesting to see that some of the At Home digital format shops are closing too. These offered shoppers a smaller range alongside the ability to order online and collect in-store. Perhaps we can deduce that shoppers go to department stores for something other than convenience, especially now that many are at home all the time to receive their online deliveries. Perhaps, as well, it’s the experience that matters – in which case department stores, and other shops, will need to think hard about ways of opening up changing rooms and offering in-store experiences before too longer.

 

Meanwhile, a study today suggests that most retailers are now well on the way to digital transformation.

 

The shift to online has meant a rise in home deliveries and it seems, from InPost research today, that younger people are more likely to shop impulsively and often than their older counterparts. Perhaps it’s now time for all shoppers to rethink the way they buy as we aim to emerge from lockdown into a more sustainable world. A study out today suggests that even though many have now gone back to work, air pollution levels have stayed low. It’s important to keep it that way.

 

A final concern for retailers will be Brexit – still on course to be a no deal Brexit despite everything. Today we report as the BRC calls for a tariff-free Brexit agreement to be agreed fast, and as the EU warns that, deal or no deal, new customs formalities will be in place from January, and it has advice on steps that need to be taken.

 

In today’s guest comment former defence analyst Sam Bocetta argues that cybersecurity efforts need to be urgently revised as digital payments gain popularity



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