EDITORIAL M&S, Dunelm, Gear4music show time spent on transformation proving profitable

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reflecting on how major changes in retail strategy can take months if not years to come to fruition – but are nonetheless well worth embarking on. 

M&S, for example, first struck its agreement to buy half of Ocado Retail more than 18 months ago – and today the business is finally delivering its first M&S groceries, available to order online after years in which M&S has delayed its move into online grocery deliveries, even after selling homewares and clothing online for many years. The move it has now taken comes after a year’s preparation work. It’s a smart one, however, that builds on Ocado’s digital strength and now means that it works with rather than against what would have been a strong competitor to any M&S standalone online business. 

Dunelm today reports strong sales both online and in-store following the easing of lockdown over the summer. It’s benefitting from a strategy first put into place in 2016. Its acquisition of Worldstores in that year gave it technology with the potential to support a doubling of the size of Dunelm’s online business was followed by three years of work on the platform. This year, however, that has shown its worth as the retailer has benefited both in-store and online following lockdown. 

Gear4music was struggling with profitability in 2019. Its subsequent strategy included ensuring that marketing, logistics and the products it sold were all profitable – and following a successful lockdown it’s now well placed to be more profitable than ever in its current financial year.

Boohoo may be at the beginning of a transformation that’s been shown necessary during the Covid-19 lockdown but it’s starting with a robust investigation of its supply chain that will be necessary in order to regain its customers’ – and investors’ –’ trust. Where suppliers can’t or won’t improve their businesses to meet its supply chain standards it says it will have no choice but to stop using them. It’s going to be a difficult task, but by putting in the long slog now, the retailer will be well placed to repay that trust and achieve its ambitions in the years to come. 

In today’s newsletter we also report as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme seems to have succeeded in boosting retail footfall as well as visitor numbers to restaurants. 

In today’s guest comment Sam Bocetta, former defence analyst, considers the challenges and benefits of using payment gateway integrations

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