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How even the largest retailer can struggle to keep up with fast industry change

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If the stories in today’s InternetRetailing newsletter share a common theme, it is the so-swift way that retail is changing in the era of ecommerce and multichannel retailing. Shopping is no longer the siloed operation that it was so recently for both customers and retailers alike. Expectations are further ahead than the reality, with innovation continually raising the bar for how shoppers would like to buy. In today’s newsletter we cover just a few examples of these innovations, from’s new social network that enables prospective buyers to see how the products they’re considering look in other people’s homes to Ocado Technology’s new coding for primary schools app that will help to make involvement in digital development the norm for the 21st century. Alongside these developments, the fact that 6m new eBay customers bought via the marketplace using their mobile devices in its latest quarter, and the fact that has launched a new German website, are now par for the course.

Today we cover figures that point to structural changes in the way that we’re buying: BRC/Springboard figures suggest that online buying is now routine – unless shoppers make an outing of it, with a trip to an out-of-town shopping centre, while pop-up shops, often used by online retailers as a temporary offline presence, are now contributing £2.1bn to the economy and form a small, but growing, section of the retail industry.

It’s against this background that Tesco this week replaced its chief executive, against a background of falling sales and profits. Our story suggests that Tesco’s new broom needs to fully engage with the changing way we buy. That almost seems a heresy given the supermarket’s early and pioneering engagement with online shopping. But online, and indeed convenience shopping, though profitable for the supermarket, are still relatively small parts of the supermarket’s estate. Weighing down the supermarket’s agility are those out-of-town hypermarkets that seemed like such a good idea so relatively recently. Now they’re fast becoming a white elephant. For while footfall for out-of-town shopping destinations is growing, the key is that it’s growing for shoppers who are making an occasion of their outing. And a trip to the supermarket is today much more a routine must-do than an occasion. Tesco’s strategy must change accordingly.

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