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EDITORIAL From safety and efficiency to survival: reasons to embrace digital innovation

Shoppers are once more buying in different ways – and retailers and brands are adapting. Image: Shutterstock

In today’s InternetRetailing we’re reporting on retailers as they find new reasons to embrace digital and multichannel innovation. Gap parent company Gap Inc has done just that, acquiring a virtual fitting room business as it looks to improve the customer experience when it increasingly sees digital as the way it will sell in the future – but wants to cut down on returns. The group saw more of its business take place online over the year, and says that 33% of its business was online in the second quarter of its financial year.

We hear from Studio’s James Le Brocq on how and why the retailer has shifted from catalogue retailing to embrace digital-first selling. He says it’s been harder than expected, but has enabled it to support customers as they buy they way that they want to. 

New research finds that shoppers too are willing to embrace digital innovations, since using tools from ‘smile to pay’ to VR browsing and 3D product printing can help them stay safe post-Covid. 

And there’s a warning, in the wake of CoStar Group research into the decline of physical department stores, that those surviving department store retailers must find ways to further embrace omnichannel if they are to continue to prosper. 

The Entertainer also has a warning today, as it says there is likely to be less choice of toys at Christmas, and that prices may rise over the next 18 months, thanks to a combination of supply chain factors from Covid-19 and bad weather to Brexit. Its online warehouses, it warns, are likely to be hardest hit by a shortage of operatives at a time when it usually expands its workforce threefold. 

In today’s guest comment, Sebastien Sepierre of Fourth argues that managing retail workforces effectively is the secret to great customer experiences on and offline.

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