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EDITORIAL Footasylum, Shoe Zone, Superdry and Gear4Music: approaching multichannel from different directions

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In today’s InternetRetailing we’re reporting on businesses that come to multichannel retailing from very different directions.

Shoe Zone is working to adapt a store estate built up from the 1980s into a multichannel retailer that can do business profitably in a multichannel age. We’re reporting as it says its profits for the year are going to be higher than expected. At the same time, we’re reporting on Superdry, which started as a market stall business in 2003 before branching out into stores. It’s since built a multichannel business but says profits are going to fall short of expectations.

We also report on Footasylum, founded in 2005, which approaches retail with a firmly multichannel angle: it has relatively small number of stores, and expects 50% of revenue to come online and from wholesale in the medium term.

And finally, Gear4Music started online and now has three showrooms, and is investing for future growth.

The challenge for all is the same: how to balance stores and online at a time when, as figures out this week confirm once more, store visitor numbers are falling, even as online growth seems to be slowing. At the root of this, argues Diane Wearle of Springboard, is the hard-pressed consumer. Their position is hardly likely to improve this year, as the UK faces continued uncertainty about what Brexit will mean. Retailers, then, are competing for customer attention and a share of potentially reducing spending. All of the retailers we cover today agree that stores are an important part of their strategy, since they raise awareness and enable traders to offer crosschannel services. Newer retailers now expect more of their spending to come online, while the share from shops diminishes – but are clear that shops remain relevant and, indeed, help to keep them relevant.

Today’s guest comment, then, is a timely one and comes from Andy Tow of the Retail Marketing Group, who considers why in-store shopping is still an event. At the same time, we report as Helen Merriot of EY suggests that by 2030 customer expectations will have changed still further, focusing on AI and experiences. 

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