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EDITORIAL From B&Q and Screwfix to Ikea: how retailers are rethinking stores within a multichannel context

In-store tech

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we report as leading retailers from B&Q to Ikea show just how important stores are to their ecommerce operations. We also report on retail partnerships and on some of the challenges that face the industry. 

In half-year results today, B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher Group focuses on the expanding role of the store in ecommerce fulfilment. Not only are B&Q stores now offering inspiration and visualisation, they are now also offering fulfilment capacity. Across the Kingfisher Group 90% of online orders are handled in its stores. It is also trialling one-hour delivery for Screwfix, supported by a growing network of relatively small stores. 

We also have an interview with Ikea’s Belén Frau, who says that a spell of being a pureplay during Covid-19 prompted the homewares giant to develop its omnichannel services quickly. That’s meant developing more joined-up multichannel services that the reflect the way shoppers now want to buy. Like B&Q, much of Ikea ecommerce fulfilment is now operating out of its stores, with collection and delivery both being supported. Both retailers too are becoming more local, opening shops on high streets as they look to get closer to the way shoppers now want to buy. 

Working with other retailers is a focus for Hotter, which says such partnerships are an important part of its growth strategy. It is to sell through John Lewis’ website from next month – one of three partnerships that it has struck recently as it targets expansion through selling via digital channels. 

The Royal Mail is trialling micro electric vehicles as it looks to provide a sustainable and more flexible alternative to post vans at a time when small parcel volumes are rising in the shift online. The steps come in response to And we report as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warns that 83% of the 40 large retailers it surveyed are now considering closing shops unless business rates are reformed – and that 25% of retailers now pay higher rates than rent.

Today’s guest comment comes from James Hyde of James and James Fulfilment who has advice on trading profitably and competitively in Europe post-Brexit. He suggests, among other steps, having a physical presence in Europe.

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