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EDITORIAL Mobile and payments open the door for retail reboot

Retail has had a bad year so far. Brexit uncertainty, trade wars beyond our shores and the threat of recession in German and France have all added up to make UK shoppers wary of spending.

Coupled with the fierce competition between retailers, between retailers and marketplaces and between the traditional world of retail and online are adding to those woes.

And for many, there seems to be no light at the end of tunnel – a fear exacerbated as big names that seemed immutable, such as Thomas Cook, go under at an alarming rate.

However, there is light at the end of tunnel. Retail isn’t in terminal decline it is in a state of reboot and those retailers that recognise where that process is heading are the ones that are going to win.

Boohoo is a fine case in point. It has seen revenues rise by an astonishing 43% in the first six months of 2019 – all the more remarkable when many established fast fashion brands are struggling.

What is interesting about Boohoo is that it is outstripping not only the old guard such as Top Shop and Miss Selfridge et al, it is also out doing ‘newbies’ such as Asos. In fact, it could be argued that it is now ushering in the era of Retail 3.0 – or 2.5 at the very least – showing even the 2.0 retailers such as Asos could learn a thing or two.

So what is Boohoo doing right? Well, it is offering what its customers want and it is branding itself all over the right places – such as Love Island – so to some extent it is just having its moment in the sun. However, it is also using technology cleverly: it uses data to fully understand its market, customers and suppliers – and where they are headed. It makes full use of the web and it is mobile first. It also offers flexible payments.

In fact, it ticks all the boxes of how a modern retailer needs to run.

Data is vital and understanding what that data is predicting is even more pressing. Getting it right delivers demonstrable results. Boohoo has managed to understand its customer base to such an ongoing extent that when others are sinking it is logging a 43% boost in revenues.

The other pieces of the puzzle lie in mobile and payments. Research this week shows that shoppers in the UK are much more likely to be researching and buying on mobile than desktop, with mobile shopping traffic growing by 141% in a year.

So important has mobile become that it is now seen as being crucial to Christmas sales for retailers – not just as the channel through which they buy, but also how they are marketed to. And that means tapping into data to understand them and create the experience they want.

Get it right and this year’s Peak could well be a bonanza. Get it wrong and, well, you know the rest…

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