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EDITORIAL Gap, Primark, AO and more on how they are adapting to the shift online

Image: Adobe Stock

Image: Adobe Stock

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting on how retailers are reevaluating their strategies for a future in which more people are likely to shop online – but will still want to shop in-store. 

AO says the last year has been one of ‘step change’ as shoppers moved online to buy electricals as never before during the pandemic. It’s now expecting that shift online to stay in place, as shoppers who have seen the benefits buy online again in the future. That said, the retailer did start to move beyond online during the year by trialling store-in-stores at Tesco branches. The results are likely inconclusive as yet, since the pandemic meant that concept was closed for significant amounts of time over the last year. 

Moonpig is stepping up the online convenience of its business, with its move to offer Sunday deliveries and thus ensure that gifts and personalised cards can always arrive on the right day – and, indeed, that those buying can leave their purchase to the last possible moment. 

Certainly, Gap now thinks the UK fashion market is now best suited to a digital-first model and it is to close all of its stores by the end of September. But the US retail brand says this approach is specific to the UK and Republic of Ireland market, and in France and Italy it’s talking to potential franchise partners to run its shops in a clicks and bricks model. 

That’s questioned with a new survey that suggests 52% of UK shoppers will be returning in-store after a year of doing more of their shopping online. Only 22% will continue shopping online to the same extent, with others keen to get back to face-to-face, but potentially remaining nervous about large gatherings. 

Primark, meanwhile, says its sales have broken “a number of records” since its stores reopened. It’s pointing to figures showing that its store-only sales have risen during the period, compared to two years ago, just as online sales have. It’s launching a new website that will give insights into local store availability but it has no plans to add home delivery to that.  

Meanwhile, the Loop refillable service, which operates in the UK in partnership with Tesco, is also recognising the continued appetite to buy in-store as well as online as it is set to bring the range to stores later this year. There’s a similar dynamic at Boots, where third quarter online sales are well ahead of the same time last year, even as overall sales recover in line with footfall. 

The conclusion remains that shoppers generally want to have the choice of where, when, and how they shop – and retailers with multichannel operations give shoppers more opportunities to buy from them. 

Today’s guest comment comes from Beth Tait of Go Inspire, who makes the case for using paid search. 

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