In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as retailers from Ikea to Hobbs are now rethinking the customer experience they offer to shoppers, rethinking stores and adopting new technology in order to do that. Ikea has launched a next generation store, which features digital in-store while promising to reduce its impact on the planet, in Shanghai. If the store is successful, the model is set to be rolled out around the world.
Hobbs has introduced virtual personal styling appointments alongside revamped in-store consultations, while also speeding up its click and collect service. Both services use a unified view of stock from a new OneStock OMS – and now more than a third of its personal styling appointments take place online.
John Lewis is expanding its online distribution capacity, with news of both a 1m sq ft distribution site, leased from Tesco, and of a 317,000 sq ft Clipper Logistics warehouse both announced in the last week. The retailer says it is is responding to growing online demand – 60% of its sales are now made online, up from 40% before the pandemic.
It’s not just retailers that are rethinking the way they serve online shoppers, post Covid-19 and post-lockdown. From next week, internet shoppers will be able to collect DPD deliveries from a growing number of Post Office branches. The Post Office says the partnership with DPD – the first carrier other than the Royal Mail it has worked with in its 360-year history – demonstrates its openness to working with other carriers in a way that it says will help it to increase its environmental sustainability.
The rethink comes as July online sales broke records, according to Adobe research, which says UK shoppers spent an unprecedented £10bn online in July. That shift does much to explain why retailers are looking online in search of new ways to serve customers who now, says Adobe, often prefer to buy online as they look to avoid crowded shopping streets, even though restrictions have been removed.
In today’s guest comment, Robin Ward of LTK considers why influencer marketing flourished during the pandemic – and what that means for brands and retailers.