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EDITORIAL Reporting from IRC 2018 and beyond on how retailers are adapting to change

Leading retailers are bringing online and offline together in their businesses

In today’s InternetRetaiing newsletter we’re reporting on how retailers are managing change in challenging times. We report on this week’s annual InternetRetailing Conference, where speakers from Shop Direct, Missguided,, Alibaba Group and more shared their experiences and the lessons they’ve learned from how they’ve adapted – or shaped themselves as a start-up – for a digital age. One story that stands out is that of Alibaba Group: known as an online retailer built for a digital age, it is now focusing offline and says stores are important for it to grow in the future.

We also report from the conference on how Alibaba Group is helping British retailers to take their businesses to China, set to be established as the world’s largest consumer market in years to come. 

Even as yesterday’s conference was wrapping up, administrators were reporting another change in the retail market: Coast had gone into administration and was bought out by Karen Millen, whose chief executive predicts a thriving future for it. As a result of the process, Coast will now be trading from department store concessions and online, with its 24 shops closing. 

In its full-year results, WH Smith this week set out how it had reviewed its high street business – where sales and profits were down – and decided to shut six stores. About half of WH Smith’s high street sales are in stationery – we also report how it is expanding this range both in its store and online, through acquisitions including CultPens. 

Dunelm, meanwhile, is looking to a future in which a strengthened online business complements its chain of 169 stores. Upcoming innovations made possible by a new ecommerce platform are now set to include click and collect and improved delivery options. 

Today, InternetRetailing is also reporting on its own innovation this week, with the launch of the Growth2000. This report goes beyond our Top500 series to map the next upcoming 2,000 retailers. 

Today’s guest comment comes from Kevin Chamberlain of Corporate Rewards, who considers whether brands are missing out by not incentivising independent retailers.
Image: Fotolia

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