Internationalisation: the hope and challenge for many retail expansion plans. As Marks & Spencer [IRDX RMAS] extricates itself from brick and mortar retailing in China, others move into the expansive consumer market. It is a market unlike the UK though, one in which retailers have to find their way around Tmall, WeChat and the annual event that is Single’s Day. Alibaba reported sales on that day of 121bn yuan (£14bn), an increase of 32% on the previous year’s figure. The majority of those purchases were made on mobile phones.
Retailers can learn a lot from international markets as well. Different business models and innovations which are working well in other countries may translate well as they are tried and tested in other markets and at home. Internet Retailing’s mobile editor, Paul Skeldon, takes readers on a tour around innovations and mobile experiences around the world while I have a look at what’s happening with final mile deliveries elsewhere.
Venture capitalists and agile start-ups are pumping billions into disrupting traditional postal delivery services, driven by the continued popularity of ecommerce and increased competitiveness in hyper-local, start-up delivery methods. Consumer expectations and behaviour, retailers repositioning their competitive proposition, venture-funded start ups and technology are all having an impact on delivery. New solutions and companies continue to show the possibility of what could be achieved.
Elsewhere in this issue of InternetRetailing magazine, we look at the opportunities for brand UK in overseas markets and the current status of Brexit and what it means for the retail industry. Will de minimis be the silver bullet?
Brett Lawrence, Senior Consultant, Inviqa examines how retailers can grow and thrive online in this climate of currency fluctuations, ever-tighter margins and growing competition from pureplay brands.
David Schwarz, Partner, Hush takes us to the retail hub of New York and shares a view of digital store experiences in an examination of why the digital experience is integral to in-store innovation. As he says in his guest article, “In just the last few years, a handful of notable brands have reshaped their respective consumer experience through innovative digital in-store integration. From Sonos’ flagship New York City store, with its listening “pods,” to Nike’s digital “trial zones” at its SoHo location, to Samsung’s 837 “Un-Store” that the brand describes as a “digital playground,” and pop-up retail experiences for Google where digital “demo” is integral, top-tier corporations have astutely married online and offline experience while showing just how much brighter digital has shone since it was first implemented for customer engagement basics.”
For many retailers, large or small, the first foray into international ecommerce markets comes via marketplaces. Here in the UK some 22 million (about a third of the UK population) visit eBay.co.uk monthly, but while UK retailers will think first of Amazon and eBay as the de facto marketplace in the UK, European retailers will naturally have a broader perspective. In France, for instance, 8 marketplaces rank amongst the Top 15 ecommerce sites and when looking further afield Alibaba and Tmall dominate China, in Japan it’s Rakuten, Yandex in Russia, Allegro in Poland, Flipkart & Myntra in India…
However, these marketplaces are no longer simply retail venues, they are rapidly evolving into the shopping search engine of choice. Even when consumers do use general search engines or shopping comparison sites they may still find the product listing on a marketplace. Chris Dawson, Editor, Tamebay investigates the issues.
We also bring you the latest from InternetRetailing’s research team as they investigate the mobile arena in the UK and the performance of pan-European retailers. InternetRetailing’s IREU Top500 Strategy & Innovation Dimension Report also highlights examples of best practice, areas where other retailers can learn from the approaches adopted by the best of the best.
One of the speakers presenting at the recent InternetRetailing/eDelivery Expo (of which there is a full preview in this issue) was Simon Finch, Director of Distribution, Harrods. On the eDelivery Pages he shares how Harrods handled the increase in demand from international shoppers driven by the drop in the pound and how its business transformation plan is developing.
Another speaker sharing more insight with readers is Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Marketing & Multi-Channel Director, Maplin. I visited the retailer’s new concept store in Cambridge to discover why Maplin is developing the digital business from the store out. An interesting example of how to get customers ‘hands-on’.