The ongoing tension between the high street and online is amply illustrated in the two headline stories of this week’s InternetRetailing newsletter. On the one hand, online retail is global, able to reach millions of shoppers in many countries at once with the latest deals. Amazon Prime Day will be marked by events around the world, including an exclusive gig headlined by Take That in London when it launches later this month.
On the other hand, jobs are going across the high street, with 22,000 identified as set to go this year alone. That’s part of a wider narrative: the Centre for Retail Research earlier this year suggested that by the end of this year there could be 10,000 fewer shops, with 31,000 fewer shops by 2022 as online retail takes a wider share of the market. Saveourhighstreet.org suggests today that education and investment will be key to creating data-driven high streets that become a destination for shoppers. And a timely guest comment, from Theo Theodorou of GroundTruth, suggests that the showroom model could provide a useful answer. Tesco, meanwhile, is experimenting with its own version of checkoutless shopping, while a new Fresh Relevance study suggests that shoppers would like to try in-store before they buy online.
Certainly, the indications are that shoppers don’t want to choose between buying online and in stores – rather they want to do both. Countless retailers, from John Lewis down, have shown the when shoppers buy across sales channels from one retailer they spend more, not less. Those spending online only spend around the same as those shopping only from a store: the real gains come when shoppers use both. Argos was the first retailer to see mobile sales top £1bn - but it has also said that it sees shoppers visit its stores in 90% of transactions. For a successful future, it seems that online and the store must work together.
Today we also report as European ecommerce sales grew by 11% in 2017 and are expected to grow again in 2018.
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