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House of Fraser struggles as Amazon, Joules and Games Workshop prosper

John Lewis and IKEA announced their far-reaching eco-friendly plans

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reflecting on news from retailers including House of Fraser, Amazon, Joules, and Games Workshop and asking what it takes to do well in today’s retail environment.

We’re hearing from House of Fraser of an existential fight for survival – and one that, it says, requires store cuts if it is to have a chance of thriving in the future.  

But we also hear from Amazon on how it plans to hire more than 2,500 staff this year in the UK as it expands in response to customer demand, and on how its US business is combining machine-learned style advice with voice commerce.

And we’re reporting on Joules and Games Workshop, two very different businesses that have in common their multichannel model and their growing sales.  
What conclusions can we draw from these different stories? Firstly, that stores can be an asset for retailers such as Games Workshop, which is building a community both online and in its stores that is based on its products, and Joules, whose stores and concessions give shoppers a chance to try fashion for themselves. But having too many large stores, as House of Fraser does, can represent weighty baggage. Its network of long-established stores is not right for a current age in which more of its customers are now taking their business online. 
While some retailers, such as Amazon, thrive on the online-only model, and are even innovating by introducing to voice assistant Alexa the type of style advice a store assistant might give in an offline store, online-only is a not a model for everyone. Indeed, Amazon itself is opening stores, although, it seems from research out this week, that UK shoppers may not be ready for the type of frictionless payment that underpins Amazon Go stores.
Sage advice is to hand from guest comment author Sam O’Meara of Applause, who considers what retailers should be doing to thrive right now.
We also ask whether – and it seems they may not yet embrace technologies underlying retail stores on the Amazon Go model. 


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