One key takeaway from today’s InternetRetailing newsletter seems to be that shoppers will buy when the experience is right, both online and in-store, even in these less-confident times. It sounds obvious, and yet in times when the larger story arc seems to be all about shoppers preferring to buy online than in stores, and stores being less necessary, it’s worth remembering that in-store experiences and service can make an important difference, helping retailers balance their channels more sustainably. We have some examples of leading IRUK Top500 retailers are are doing just that.
Today we report as Wickes sees strong first-half sales following the launch of a new website and a focus on in-store service that links channels. Next has improved its stores by measures including cross channel services in-store and new cafés – and has seen its in-store sales decline slow and its overall sales lift. In the grocery sector, Waitrose has seen encouraging results for its packaging-free in-store trial, one that is now is now being extended.
These are very localised successes, however. The wider picture is that, according to the latest shop prices analysis from the BRC and Nielsen, retailers are still relying on discounting in order to sell. Indeed, this is an area where, Next showed in its figures, it has succeeded. It has both decreased its discounting and increased its full-price sales as a result. By delivering services and experiences that strike a chord with their customers, retailers can still take concrete steps to boost their sales.
From our European coverage we have the news that Toys R Us is investing an omnichannel point of sale and has upgraded its Iberian website. Today’s guest comment comes from Phillip Hall of CommerceHub who has advice on how to create a successful fashion marketplace as a way of diversifying from pure website sales.
Paul Skeldon is away.