Editor's Comment

The evolving role of the store in a ‘tough year’ for online retailing

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re looking gloomily ahead to what the IMRG says will be a tougher 2018 for online and multichannel retailers. This morning the etail trade association said its growth forecast for 2018 would be in single figures for the first time, as 2017 figures came in lower than expected and sales via mobile phones slowed.

This comes in the week that Tesco and Sainsbury’s said they would reduce their in-store management in a move that’s likely to help cut costs. At the same time, Amazon has opened its first checkout-free – and checkout staff-free – grocery store in Seattle.

But at the same time, studies suggest that click and collect will continue to grow strongly in coming years, and that stores remain important for disruptive retailers.

The continuing importance of the store is clear in figures from retailers including Pets at Home, out this week. The pet superstore business says omnichannel services are helping it to grow its sales. That said, N Brown Group says most of its sales are now online, and that mobile is growing strongly. Putting all this together, it seems that stores are likely to keep their role on the high street, but what a store looks like may well change as headcounts are reduced and technology increases.

Today we also report as Hotter launches an EU website, and as Holland & Barrett introduces the new role of managing director as it focuses on digital transformation.

We’re looking to the future in our latest 2018 trends piece – this time focusing on social media and retail restructuring – while today’s guest comment comes from Dan Bond of Cheetah Digital, who considers how retailers can avoid email subscriber death.

Find out more about upcoming InternetRetailing webinars and register for free on the InternetRetailing webinar page. You can also catch up with past webinars on the page: recent sessions have come from IBM Watson on using AI to improve the customer experience, and from SmartFocus and The Entertainer on using social to reach digital customers.