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EDITORIAL From UGC to new store formats and merged managements: the retail response to challenging times

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting on the approaches, from the tried and tested to the new, that retailers are taking to sell their wares in markets that are providing increasingly competitive. 

ScS says a focus on the customer experience both in-store and online has helped it to boost sales across both channels. It has introduced an in-store app, and has opened its own photography and CGI studio to boost visualisation of its products – and thus conversion. 

Made is deploying user-generated content in its latest campaign that started on Instagram and is now being amplified across channels. 

Yoox Net-A-Porter is launching a flagship store on Tmall as it targets the Chinese market.

Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, meanwhile, says its latest results show how important its high street stores remain to developing the customer relationships that remain the bedrock of retail. 

But our stories today also reflect the challenging times in which retailers now operate, and which provoke different responses. Fast fashion retailer Forever 21 is seeking bankruptcy protection in its home US market, and with a warning from JD Sports, today facing the second phase of a competition enquiry into its merger with Footasylum, that many retailers are failing as they contend with the ever changing demands both of customers and of the brands that they sell. John Lewis and Waitrose management, meanwhile, will merge as the retailer looks to save £100m and cut 75 senior posts – including that of Waitrose managing director.

Today’s stories, then, show some of the innovative responses that retailers are taking to difficult retail climate. But they also underline some of the harsh underlying realities about the need for many to cut costs and be profitable. John Lewis sounds a more optimistic note: it says that the action it is taking now will mean it is better placed when the retail climate improves. 

Today’s timely guest comment comes from Rob Coyne of Hootsuite, who considers how retailers can harness the power of social in their businesses. 

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

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