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EDITORIAL Screwfix, B&Q, Studio, Naked Wines: finding new ways to serve customers online and offline

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as the latest ONS retail sales figures suggest that shoppers are stocking up for Christmas early – spending more in October 2021 than they have in months. That may be related to the much-mentioned supply chain crisis, with people keen to ensure they have what they need for Christmas in plenty of time.

Will this trend prove to have brought forward Black Friday spending into Christmas? Today’s guest comment, from Nicolas Rieul of Criteo, considers some of the consumer trends that are being seen – from earlier shopping to constant commerce. 

And in today’s Peak 2021 round-up we’re focusing on Black Friday predictions and looking at IMRG analysis of how retailers are approaching this year’s event. It seems that this year, retailers started earlier but are now running Black Friday campaigns at a lower level than last year. Given that last Black Friday was marked by a lockdown affecting non-essential shops, things are likely to be very different this year – including lower levels of sales taking place online.

That’s certainly been the experience for retailers including B&Q, Screwfix and Naked Wines, which all reported their latest figures this week. B&Q saw its sales fall compared to last year, while Screwfix saw its sales grow, but not as strongly as last year. Parent company Kingfisher says its group-wide third-quarter ecommerce sales were 133% ahead of the same time two years earlier, while 16% of sales now take place online.

Online-only Naked Wines also saw its sales stay at similar levels to last year, growing by just 1%. That growth would be modest another year, but this year represents an achievement of maintaining the shift online seen last year. The retailer shows that new ways of selling have helped, such as subscription models that allow customers to stick with a favourite wine or ask the algorithm to come up with new ideas. 

In the same way, Screwfix and B&Q are both finding new ways to engage with shoppers, whether that’s through Screwfix’s expanding one-hour delivery service, or through B&Q’s new format stores, including one in a branch of Asda. 

Another way of connecting with shoppers comes from pureplay Studio as it trials direct shopping from a livestream on its mobile app – where customers are able to ask and get live answers about the products that are being demonstrated.

All of these are ways that retailers are finding to keep the shoppers who bought online last year interested in doing so in the future. We’ll be watching with interest to see if ecommerce can maintain its larger share of retail as Covid-19 lockdowns continue to retreat in retail’s rear view window. 

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