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EDITORIAL Shifting online: how Primark, B&M, Gear4music and more are using ecommerce and multichannel retail

Image courtesy of Primark

Not one but two leading store-first retailers are trying out how ecommerce might work for their businesses this week. Primark and B&M are both testing small and strategic ecommerce offerings that are designed to work out what will provide a better service to customers, while not affecting their in-store sales. The conclusion we draw is that ecommerce and multichannel services have a role to play in most modern retail businesses – and that customers will gain as a result. 

Primark parent company ABF says that the retailer will start trialling click and collect – and in-store returns – later in the current calendar year. The move, which will initially start in 25 shops of varying sizes in the North West is a significant step from a retailer that has previously focused on store-only retail. It builds on Primark’s April introduction of a new website that shows stock availability in local stores.

B&M has also started its own small scale ecommerce trial. It is now delivering around 100 larger items to home. The move comes as the retailer has found that shoppers sometimes struggle to get their purchases home. However, it says that while the service could expand to 1,000 products it will not expand it to the point where it impacts on its in-store sales.

Gear4music, meanwhile, says its core musical equipment market is continuing to shift online in the wake of pandemic peaks. There might not be the level of demand for beginner instruments that was at its height during lockdowns, but there is a continuing customer assumption that they will be able to buy products online.

No doubt Lego is one of the brands encouraging that assumption in younger shoppers and older fans. It uses a range of methods to engage with customers of all ages, as we report in a piece taken from the RetailX Nordics 2022 ecommerce report.

The shift online comes as supply chain issues, Brexit, inflation and the cost-of-living crisis are all threatening retail profitability, according to a series of new studies. We also report on reaction as the government unveils new plans to regulate the ‘buy-now-pay-later’ sector.

In today’s guest comment, Justin Reilly of Impero Software considers how retailers and their employees can work together to guard against cyberattacks.

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