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How Top500 retailers are responding to a challenging economic climate

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Strategy
Strategy

How much effect does the overall economic climate have on individual retailers? It’s a question we ask in today’s InternetRetailing newsletter as we report that online sales are set to keep growing across Western Europe over the next four years – but different markets are likely to have different experiences, predicts Forrester in research we cover today. The UK experience may be less buoyant than other parts of Europe, as wage growth falls behind inflation and footfall subsides. But the downturn in the retail environment is not hitting all. Many are still reporting growth.

Hotel Chocolat is reporting strong sales and profit growth this week, both online and from its stores. It’s an example of how a retailer is using its omnichannel model to appeal to customers, enabling them to shop in the way that they want to.

Debenhams is more affected by the wider downturn but in today’s newsletter we hear from Ross Clemmow on how it is now using digital to stand out from the competition. Many will be interested to see how its focus on mobile and social works out – for this seems to be the kind of change that many retailers are working towards, in response to customer demand.

Customers, according to new research from IRX 2017, are also looking for retailers to use new technologies from virtual reality to artificial intelligence. Today we also report on a study that suggests the less showy technology of RFID can result in a real boost to sales.

Today’s guest comment comes from Mel Taylor, chief executive of Omnico, who considers what consumers find frustrating about shopping in store – and what retailers can do about it.

For it seems clear that the wider economic environment is not doing retailers any favours. Nonetheless, individual traders can and will find strategic responses that fit the climate, and enable them to prosper.

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