In today’s InternetRetailing we’re starting to get a clearer picture of a peak trading season in which retailers discounted to make sales and clear stock, but took a hit to profits by doing so. So high are the volumes of traders reporting their post-Christmas figures this week that there’s a double helping of peak trading updates in today’s newsletter. We look at figures from yesterday’s updates, on retailers including Mothercare, Halfords and Majestic Wine in one story, and in the other we’re focusing on today’s updates, from AO World, Moss Bros, Quiz and Net-A-Porter.
Why so much coverage? As we explain in today’s piece, we’re particularly interested in peak trading not because we want to know what everyone got for Christmas, but because when larger volumes of retail transactions take place it not only shows what’s happening now, but also because it can point to how consumer behaviour is changing in the longer-term. Those long-term shifts that we’re detecting right now are about shoppers who are now more open towards buying online than they may have been in the past, and they’re about savvy shoppers who know that if you hold on long enough after Black Friday there’s a chance of more discounts – and still bigger ones. This is also likely to be the behaviour of customers who have to think twice about what they’re spending their money on, in the pre-Brexit uncertainty, coupled with often-stagnant wages.
We take a look at what worked for Shoe Zone. The value footwear retailer reported its full-year figures, for the year to the end of September 2018, this week and showed that a combination of low prices with a strong delivery offer and mobile-first customer experience can reap rewards from the end consumer and on the balance sheet. This retailer sells shoes costing an average of £10, to shoppers wielding smartphones and tablet computers: some 79% of its website visits came via mobile during the year.
We report too as European retailer Otto launches instant online payments for its customers, and look to the future in the latest of our series on predictions. Today we look at artificial intelligence, with a whole host of ideas on what this might mean for retailers this year, and in the future. It’s a subject that our guest comment author, Parham Saebi of Arvato UK considers, with a look at how AI might affect customer service by 2028.