Insight around the world


Chloe Rigby, Editor,

Chinese shoppers can now use Alipay to buy jewellery in-store, after Beaverbrooks adopted new cross-channel technology.

The jeweller is now able to offer shoppers who have the Alipay app on their smartphones the option of using a familiar payment method when they buy from its store in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, using technology from Verifone.

The announcement comes just after more than 700,000 visitors and local residents took part in Chinese New Year celebrations in London alone. Visit Britain figures suggest that in 2015, Chinese tourists each spent an average of £2,170 in

UK retail stores, making this group the biggest spenders. Verifone says that just under half of China’s online payments took place via Alipay in October 2016.

Verifone introduced the technology earlier this year. At the time, it said its new mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution made for an ever more convenient experience for Chinese tourists.

“By expanding Alipay acceptance across many borders for an easy, frictionless travelling and shopping experience, Verifone is creating a future that takes the convenient cashless payment experience to the next level for Chinese consumers wherever they are,” said Albert Liu, EVP, corporate development at Verifone. “The potential of Verifone’s footprint of installed devices in more than 150 countries means we are connecting retailers to increasing opportunities to engage and serve global consumers from the POS.”

Douglas Feagin, SVP of Ant Financial Services Group and head of Alipay International, said: “Scale, security and speed are important to us as we look to enable our customers to walk into a store while travelling abroad and pay for purchases with the Alipay App – just like they do here in China. Verifone has each of these attributes, and as a trusted partner to global and national retailers, we benefit from Verifone’s scale to bring broader Alipay acceptance for Chinese consumers who travel abroad.”

Michael O’Grady, Forecast Data Analyst, Forrester

Online retail sales are set to grow 12.3% per year over the next five years in Western Europe, with Italy and Spain seeing the fastest online sales growth. Growth in the Netherlands, the UK, and Ireland has been faster than previously predicted by Forrester with new figures released in the latest ‘Online Retail Forecast for Western Europe’. The report shares details across 22 product categories in 17 countries in Western Europe, with historical online category sales going back to 2002.

Despite representing only 52% of retail sales in Western Europe in 2016, the UK, France and Germany captured 70% of online retail sales in Western Europe. The share of retail sales that are online in these countries is significantly higher than in Southern Europe. Over the next five years, however, online retail sales growth in Southern Europe will more than double, driven by an increase in online buyers as well as an increase in spend per buyer. There is ample room for growth, with almost 30% of Italians aged 16 and older not connecting to the internet in 2015, which contrasts with just 6% for the UK.

Online shoppers in Western Europe spent £36.47bn (€43bn) online in 2016 on clothing and accessories. Grocery is the second largest online category, capturing £22.05bn (€26bn) of online spend. The online grocery sales in Western Europe are driven by the UK and France. France’s click and collect Drive concept has significantly increased online grocery sales because it is convenient to use and does not incur a delivery charge. Discount retailers, which account for 40% of grocery sales in Germany, have less scope for offering free or discounted online delivery and German shoppers have yet to embrace click and collect services.

The pound has lost 18% of its value against the euro since the referendum result in 2016, driving cross-border sales from residents outside the UK, most notably for Irish shoppers and luxury goods shoppers. More than 40% of online shopping from consumers in Ireland comes from abroad, most notably from the UK. In Q3 2016, Irish online shopping grew by 20%. In addition, the UK is now one of the cheapest places in the world to buy luxury goods. UK shoppers are spending more online since the referendum too.

Massimo Fubini, CEO, Contactlab

In 2016, the overall luxury goods market slowed down compared to the previous year, but Chinese consumers continued to spend on luxury products, fuelled by rising disposable incomes, their desire for quality products and also the ability to showcase one’s social status. Wealthy Chinese tourists have been key drivers of global luxury goods sales for more than a decade.

However, our study of global luxury brands, e-tailers and a department store has shown that European luxury brands are struggling to adapt their digital marketing and customer engagement to the Chinese market. The Online Purchase Process in China 2016 report shows how European luxury brands need a strong digital strategy and greater focus on how to interact with the digitally savvy and social Chinese shopper.

The Chinese ecommerce experience is very different to Western standards, with China powering well ahead when it comes to digital engagement. They account for 30% of the total global spend on luxury goods and spending on luxury goods in mainland China is on the rise. European luxury brands are being gifted with an additional stream of revenue which makes it increasingly important to tailor engagement which resonates with Chinese customers.

This is a market where mobile is key, delivery in 1-2 days is expected as a standard and the social media landscape is extremely personal. Chinese consumers favour online chat assistance and social elements such as brand and product reviews, as well as the option to pay via WeChat. Compared with Chinese e-tailers, European luxury brands are slow to integrate these features. Having said this, some brands such as Chanel are in fact embracing channels such as WeChat, contacting individuals via this platform at all stages of the customer journey.

Lucy Kusi, SkyNet Worldwide Express

Shipping volume data from the fourth quarter of 2016 for one of the UK’s leading international fashion e-retailers shows Russia is already achieving weekly averages of over 5,000 shipments. Could the Russian economic rise forecasted for the upside of 2017 surprise and spell good news for UK e-retail?

2015 saw many UK e-retailers make a beeline for the Russian market to claim their slice of the prize. However numerous operational issues, coupled with red tape, saw some UK e-retailers withdraw from this market.

Data Insight reports cross-border shipping is the fastest growing segment of the Russian ecommerce market with foreign retailers’ online sales of goods to Russia, exploding in the past 3 years from £1.02bn (€1.2bn) to £2.63bn (€3.1bn) in 2016. Mobile internet significantly contributed to this growth.

With over 85 million Russians online and 75% making a purchase at least once a month, revisiting Russia is definitely a move in the right direction.

However, the days when Russian consumers were willing to wait for 15-20 days to collect their shipment from the post-office are now over. If UK e-retailers want to enjoy the extra revenue Russia can generate they can look to work with carriers who provide solutions that satisfy Russian consumers’ need for multiple delivery options; offering both express home delivery, click and collect services together with advanced technology based customs clearance processes.

It’s common knowledge that Russian online shoppers have little faith in e- retailers’ logistic capabilities. However, reputable carriers have developed excellent partnerships to provide efficient and user friendly shipping software incorporating accurate transit times, real-time shipping and delivery updates. These and future software enhancements will go a long way to rebuilding Russian consumers’ trust.