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EDITORIAL Balancing online and in-store sales

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as new figures show just how far retailers have reduced their head counts over the last year, and after a Christmas in which footfall to many stores fell. Certainly the fall in staffing appears to have come as many retailers decide to reduce their store estates in the light of online shopping. But may also have come as fewer shoppers decide not to venture into store, and opted to buy online instead.  It doesn’t have to be like that, argue George Charles of MoneySavingHeroes and Jon Buss of Yext in our piece: they say that retailers need to turn their stores into places where experiences happen. That could arguably create higher value jobs while boosting consumer spending in-store.

Reporting its Christmas trading figures, Bonmarché today said that its store sales were down by 11%, while online sales were up. But that wasn’t enough to grow overall sales. The story’s not the same for all retailers: Hotel Chocolat saw revenues grow in its stores, as well as online and via wholesale.  We also report as sales at Studio – previously Express Gifts – grow, and on how WH Smith performed over Christmas.

One challenge for many retailers this Christmas was how to ensure sales stayed profitable, without being forced to discount in order to clear stock. We have advice on what worked for Lovehoney, from its co-founder Richard Longhurst, in the week that the online sex toys retailer reported sales and profits up by 22% in its latest financial year. It’s a piece that makes for an interesting read. 

We also report on how Net-A-Porter is putting customer data to work in wardrobing.

We’re also looking ahead in today’s newsletter, where our regular January piece, Predictions 2019, looks ahead to how shopping may change over the coming year – and to the technologies that might drive that change. The theme continues in our guest comment which comes from Chris Simmance of Optus Digital, and looks at voice commerce and how it’s set to improve. And we have an example of a ‘future’ technology which goes live in the US this week, as Amazon launches its Scout delivery robot.

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

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