Halfords is proving the worth of its store network as it combines online and the store to drive a small lift in full-year sales growth. However the costs of looking to future ways of selling gave a significant hit to profits during the year.
Topps Tiles and Shoe Zone also show how digital complements stores in their businesses as they each report first-half figures today. All three businesses show stores helping to bring digital and in-store services together in order to boost overall sales. There are costs to doing that, as Halfords figures show – but by investing strategically retailers are working to stay profitable while putting down the foundations for their business’ future.
The other way many retailers bring together stores and online is through m-commerce services. It’s too soon to say why m-commerce sales appear to have fallen by a “staggering” 20.5% during April - despite warm weather and Easter – but what’s also notable from IMRG figures out today is that multichannel retailers were hit less hard than pureplay retailers by this shift. It’s all food for thought for those considering what the right size of their store network might be.
Today we also report as Ocado wins shareholder backing for its new joint venture with M&S, and on what its soon-to-be former partner Waitrose is doing to boost its own online sales. Both of these multichannel retailers clearly see the importance of ensuring that they out-compete online as well as in-store, at a time when online sales continue to grow.
Asda says its focusing on the customer as it looks to move on from its own failed merger with Sainsbury’s - there are also suggestions that an IPO could lie ahead for it.
Meanwhile, Royal Mail is introducing what it says are the UK’s first postboxes for parcels, and a study from Whistl suggests that customer returns are more guided by the kind of item they bought than by whether or not they paid for delivery. And from our European coverage we have news from Mediamarkt.
Today’s guest comment comes from Neil McIlroy of Feefo on why AI tools offer a fast track to personalisation.