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EDITORIAL Asos, TM Lewin, Bulgari and Deliveroo: how retailers and brands are adjusting as customers move on from the shift online

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as the latest retail sales figures suggest that shoppers are moving on from the shift online. Many of us are now making more of our retail purchases online than we did before the Covid-19 pandemic – but less than we did at the height of lockdown. Many retailers are having to rework their strategies as shoppers return to stores to buy – just as they previously had to adjust when coronavirus lockdowns closed non-essential retail two years ago. Today we report on the implications for retailers and brands from Asos to TM Lewin and Bulgari. All are dealing with an underlying shift online – but one that’s not turning out to have gone as far as may have previously been thought.

The latest figures follow the trend of recent months in showing more retail sales taking place online than before the pandemic. According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, 38.5% of UK non-food sales took place online in March 2022. That’s down from the 63% of sales that were online a year ago, in the third UK Covid-19 lockdown, but still well ahead of pre-pandemic 2019. KPMG’s retail partner Don Williams suggests that today’s figures show a ‘locked in’ step up on the share of sales now taking place online.

Asos has seen the practical effects of that reset in demand. It has seen customers that it acquired at an “exceptional rate” during lockdown return to the high street – although leaving online with a greater share of the market than before the pandemic. While Asos sales have grown slowly, its costs have risen thanks to supply chain issues – from Covid-19 to Brexit – and the retailer has reported a bottom line pre-tax loss.

Stores remain important for many retailers. TM Lewin is prioritising online as it relaunches following its acquisition out of administration. But it also envisages a return to the high street, almost two years after going online-only during the pandemic.

Deliveroo, meanwhile, says it’s continuing to see strong demand for fast online delivery. It is now testing whether the appetite for bike deliveries will stretch beyond its growing grocery market to areas including health and stationery.

And Bulgari has launched the first luxury flagship store on the Tmall Luxury Pavilion in a move that, it says, reflects the changing nature of luxury retail. Today digital – up to and including the Metaverse – is now crucial to the luxury brand, especially as it works to offer its customers the connected shopping experience that they now want.

In today’s guest comment, Emely Patra of MuleSoft considers some of the new opportunities in ecommerce that are still emerging from the shift online.

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