Editor's Comment

Retailers benefit from online growth – and lose out from declining store footfall

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as retailers continue to update the markets on how they fared this Christmas.

The overall verdict comes from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which found good year-on-year growth in ecommerce, especially in fashion, while the effect of inflation on overall sales meant shoppers buying across all channels spent more in December than last December – but less than they did in November.

That story of online growth comes out in the retailers’ figures too, perhaps nowhere more than Bonmarché, where internet sales grew very strongly – but store sales fell, taking overall sales to a decline on last year.

It’s clear that businesses that are strong online, or that trade effectively across channels tended to do well this Christmas. Those that have a more heavy reliance on footfall, such as Carpetright, saw their sales fall. In the middle is Halfords, which shows how it brings customers into store from online and for in-store services, combining the two and boosting overall sales at the same time. Other potential answers to that might include investing in new technologies or learning from what other retailers do.

Today’s newsletter has opportunities to do both those things. We report on how Urban Outfitter, Disney and Tommy Hilfiger are all using machine-learning to automate some tasks.

And we round up some successful approaches from IRUK Top500 traders on the customer experience and operations and logistics.

We look forward to the year ahead with predictions of how the customer experience and how robotics are set to change the way we buy and sell.

Finally, todays guest comment comes from Neenu Jacob of Intelligence Node who focuses on a new merchandising trend that’s affecting the way retailers are selling – and shoppers are buying.

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.

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