EDITORIAL How the shape of retail is starting to change in the face of coronavirus

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as the shape of retail starts to change fast in the face of coronavirus.

Lower visitor numbers are hitting retailers including Laura Ashley, which is today filing for administration. Others reporting lower footfall include Primark, which only sells through stores, as we report in today’s coronavirus news round-up.  And Dixons Carphone says the current turbulence makes it more important for it to move to the next stage of its omnichannel transformation – and close all its standalone Carphone Warehouse shops and bring its mobile business within Currys PC World shops as well as continuing to trade online. IRX 2020 is now postponed as a result of the pandemic.

Halfords also said this week that it would shift its cycle business further online, closing 22 Cycle Republic shops and its Boardman Performance Centre, in favour of investing in the mostly-online Tredz business. 

We can expect that shift towards online to pick up pace in coming weeks as the looming coronavirus shutdown takes hold. Already Germany has shut all of its shops with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies. Such a move is not unlikely in the UK, where cinemas are already closing their doors. And in today’s coronavirus round-up we report as online delivery slots become scarce and as retailers warn against panic buying. Retailers from the New West End Company are among those calling on the government to support both the retail and leisure industries through the crisis. Read our round-up for these and many more updates.

Today we also report as Starship Deliveries has launched its delivery robots in central Milton Keynes. In this instance, the robots will be used by food retailers but in previous cases they’ve been used by retailers including the Co-op. From our European coverage, we report as bol.com offers doorstep pick-up for returns. 

In today’s guest comment, Nick Barbeary of Paragon Customer Communications examines how big data and insight technology can transform the customer experience and deliver highly successful marketing strategies.

Image courtesy of Starship Technologies

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