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EDITORIAL Next, Wickes, L’Oreal, Morrisons and more on new ways of reaching customers online

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In today’s InternetRetailing, we report as the latest ONS figures show shoppers spent a lot less online than they did a year earlier, when the proportion of ecommerce in UK sales peaked. That’s not so surprising considering that a year ago, we were in the middle of the third UK Covid-19 lockdown.

But where does that leave the retailers who have built up their online capacity and are now ready to sell to shoppers in a whole different way? The good news for them is that shoppers are still spending more online than they did before the pandemic started. While the ONS says that 27.8% of sales were online in February 2022 and while that figure has steadily declined since they peaked in February 2021 at 37.7% of sales, they are still well ahead of the 20.0% of sales that were online in pre-pandemic February 2020. But at the same time, retailers are taking new approaches to sell to online shoppers, some of which were developed during pandemic lockdowns.

Next, which this week reported full-year figures, says the pandemic has changed retail, and that its changed shape is only now becoming clear. Now, says its chief executive Simon Wolfson, we live in a world where the internet gives shoppers abundant online choice, where it is easier and cheaper than ever to launch a brand, and where retailers such as Next are now selling other brands online to a much greater extent, becoming online aggregators rather than simply retailers.

Wickes, meanwhile, has found that digital methods it first developed during the pandemic – such as its virtual kitchen planning services – have helped it keep engaging with shoppers well beyond lockdown. It says digital has helped it to report strong growth in its latest financial year.

Other retailers and brands are also finding new ways – and places – to reach customers, finding new and innovative ways to make it easier for shoppers to buy in that world of abundant purchase options. That means giving still more choice to customers considering ordering online, and taking products ever closer to where they are.

Today Morrisons reports its new partnership with Gopuff for 20-minute grocery deliveries, while L’Oreal UK & Ireland is now selling curated gift boxes via TikTok creators as it looks to capitalise on user appetite for products that go viral on the social media platform.

We also report on new Wavemaker research that finds that 9% of UK adults now use fast delivery services – and those that do so are very enthusiastic about them.

Today’s guest comment comes from James Frampton of SugarCRM who considers how the pandemic has changed the way sales happen.

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