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EDITORIAL How a focus on digital has helped leading retailers survive and thrive

Digital has proved the key to success for many retailers. Image: Fotolia

Over almost a year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, retailers have been challenged to find new ways to serve their customers. Digital was been the answer for many in a pandemic that challenged face-to-face ways of doing business. Rising to the digital challenge has enabled many to find new ways of working that continue to be relevant post-pandemic. Certainly, both Morrisons and Marks & Spencer appear to be reaping the rewards of meeting these challenges. 

The latest bid in what’s becoming a bidding war for Morrisons now values the retailer at more than £7bn. The supermarket saw online sales triple as it found new and ever more convenient ways to reach shoppers – from Deliveroo on-demand delivery to the new range of till-free Amazon Fresh stores. 

M&S, meanwhile, has seen its business shift online quickly over the last year, and today raised its profit expectations for its current financial year. Some 35% of its home and clothing sales are now online, while its Ocado Retail joint venture gives it a strong position in the groceries online market. 

That puts the retailer ahead of the trend. ONS figures out today show that 29% of clothing and footwear sales, 28.2% of department store sales, and 24.9% of homewares took place online in July. That’s ahead of the 27.9% of retail sales that were online in the month. 

Today we also report as Farfetch says the luxury industry has bounced back from Covid-19, and explores new ways of using online to encourage shoppers to go in-store. And a new Bazaarvoice study suggests that ‘everyday’ social media users could now be more influential than celebrity influencers. 

In today’s guest comment, Guy Elliott of Publicis Sapient considers what the store of the future will really look like, after 18 months in which the nature of shopping has been reimagined. 

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