It’s always nice to leave a year on a high, but this week’s Asos results and seeming confirmation of retail woes in the latest Cap Gemini/IMRG ecommerce report see us winding down in a bit of a blue funk.
On the face of it, the hysteria in the mainstream media that if not even ecommerce can turn a profit then we surely are f**ked seems to have some credence. However, on closer inspection things may not be so bad.
Asos, lest we forget, did log 15% growth and it did turn a profit. OK, so not as much as it had hoped for, but profit it made. Similarly, IMRG finds that ecommerce grew by its lowest rate in seven years, but grow it did.
Every Christmas there is the wealth of stories as to how badly retailers are doing in the run up to Christmas, how this year will be worse than last. It never really comes to anything and usually, the January sales make up for it.
This year, it is undeniable that the market is bad: Brexit uncertainty is really stopping people spending, but that is a temporary issue. The money is there, it is just not flowing until we all have some idea what we are up against. Growth will come.
The upside of this is that the first half of 2019 will see retailers falling over themselves to innovate and recalibrate to try and get their share of the post-Brexit spoils (assuming we get a deal and it isn’t the disaster it could be).
This will see more retailers investing in voice and visual search technologies, local searchcapabilities, in-store technology and all the things that retail – online and real-world – has been crying out for.
That’s what I am hoping for, anyway. Yes, there are problems, but there are also solutions. Change is coming and change is needed. Like it or not, whatever happens with Brexit will force that change – and as ever we’ll make the best of it.
So, as I try to sign off for 2018 on a high note, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas, a cool Yule and a very Happy New Year and see you in 2019.