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EDITORIAL How retailers are investing online for the long-term, not just for lockdown

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as retailers rely on selling online once more during a second lockdown that is currently affecting non-essential retailers in both England and Wales. But while online is an option that’s come into its own during the Covid-19 pandemic, many retailers see Covid simply as the factor that is bringing forward an online shift they would otherwise have expected in years rather than months or days. 

It’s clear from a series of retailers’ lockdown trading updates this week that many had already learned from their experiences in March and were starting to scale their online capacity, on websites and in fulfilment, in order to ensure that they would be able to cope with future peaks. Superdry, for example, is using social media to engage customers they’d otherwise see in store, while Joules and The Works has expanded warehouse capacity in order to cope with higher levels of ecommerce sales. These measures would have been useful in what’s predicted to be a bigger than usual peak season, but they are particularly likely to prove useful as retailers approach a locked-down Black Friday. 

Others are following suit in improving their digital infrastructure. N Brown Group is now raising £100m in order to invest in digital, while Richemont, Alibaba and Farfetch are joining forces to help brands get their digital channels up to speed, and to tap into the growing Chinese market. Richemont can see the need to do that from its own figures – those of its brands that were better placed to trade online direct to consumers have done better in the last six months than those that relied on retail partners, or on warehouses that had to close to put Covid-secure measures into place. 

Argos and Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, have long been ahead of the competition on their digital evolution. The logical next step, however, means closing standalone shops that Argos customers no longer need to use since they can collect items in a branch of Sainsbury’s that has a click and collect point – and by 2024 that will be all of them.

Today, we’re reporting on the need for retailers who export to and import from the EU to plan how their goods will make that journey when the post-Brexit transition period concludes at the end of December – and as the National Audit Office says there is now likely to be significant disruption from January 1 2021

In today’s guest comment Daniel Cohen of RSA, suggests that tackling card-not-present fraud is a multi-billion pound opportunity for retailers. 

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