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EDITORIAL How the Co-op and Sainsbury’s are developing the role of shops in a digital context; BRC calls for rates reform

What – and who – are stores for in a world of digital commerce? That’s the question retailers from Co-op to Sainsbury’s appear to be answering as they find new ways for their shops to become ever-more convenient for customers. In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we report on how the Co-op plans to roll out same-day delivery of online orders to 650 shops this year – after trialling the service last year. Sainsbury’s, meawhile, is using digital and data to deliver a new generation of convenience stores. It says data and analytics have come into play to help it work out what shoppers in the Mansion House area of London want to buy – and to provide them with those products through a handy in-store experience that’s driven by digital.

These reimagined shops offer ways of serving shoppers that currently only a shop can provide – and even the most efficient online retailer cannot. In offering this kind of service, they give shoppers good reasons to visit and offer way that high streets and shopping centres can stay relevant for the customers of the future.

It’s the retailers that ask, and answer, these kinds of innovative questions about what shopping is for and how it might work in the future that are recognised in the latest RetailX UK Top500 report, published this week, in association with Klarna. Read it to find out who made – and who leads – this year’s list.

But while shops can offer some innovative data and digitally-led ways to serve customers, they are also burdened by a business rates system that badly needs fixing, according to the British Retail Consortium. Fifty-two retailers this week signed a BRC letter asking for change, particularly to the transitional rates scheme, in a call that was today also backed by the Frasers Group. 

Today we also report as Studio Retail leads calls for action to counter a local skills drain in its home county of Lancashire. We report on how retailers are now using social media platform TikTok to engage with customers. 

Finally, our guest comment author today asks a controversial question: should the retail sector be preparing to become run by machines with only skeleton staffs occasionally pressing the reset button? Beverley White, chief executive of the Harvey Nash Group, explains why she doesn’t think so.

Image: Fotolia

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