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How retailers are using technology to survive and prosper

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Today’s InternetRetailing newsletter comes in a week that has seen the final demise of not one but two long-standing and well-known names in retail.

BHS, said its administrators, has failed at a time when the British high street is changing fast, while those for Austin Reed cited an “extremely challenging retail environment”.

True, high street retailers are now expected to keep up with a multichannel age that enables shoppers to buy in the most convenient way. But both BHS and Austin Reed seemed to be doing that, named respectively as Leading and Top150 retailers in IRUK Top500 research. Added to that, Austin Reed featured in the Top5 for merchandising in that report.

How can retailers expect to prosper in a world where even Leading IRUK Top500 retailers can fail? Both were well-developed multichannel retailers, and BHS’ #SaveBHS social media campaign has provided ample evidence of that retailer’s effectiveness, even if it does ultimately seem to have proved unsuccessful. But the pace of change means that today, efficient and convenient multichannel functionality is fast becoming a basic, rather than an added extra – and it seems highly likely that, as suggested by many commentators on BHS, issues in areas such as its depleted pension fund meant that extra investment in digital was hardly forthcoming.

As we see just from the other stories we’re covering today, retailers are making huge and important strides in improving the service they offer customers. Whether it’s 15-minute click and collect at Euro Car Parts, an app for personalised offers at Gap, or the single customer view being assembled by Halfords to power initiatives such as its use of personalisation, these are retailers who are zeroing in on what makes the difference to their customers. At the same time, brands such as True Religion are taking their products direct to consumers – and using digital to cut the amount of floorspace they need to do that.

Issues such as these, that really make the difference between just surviving and prospering in a multichannel world, will be under discussion at the inaugural InternetRetailing Summit, to be held in Berlin this month.

We also have advice from José de Cabo of Olapic on some ways that retailers can use the latest technology to make that difference in their business.

Our research

The IRUK Top500 2016 and the first 2016 dimension reports, the first one Brand Engagement and the second on Mobile & Cross-channel, are now available to download. Visit the IRUK Top500 section of the website to find out more.

Our webinars

Bronto marketing strategist Greg Zakowicz joins us for the next InternetRetailing webinar, where he’ll be discussing approaches to building an engaging user experience before and after purchase. Creating customer loyalty in an ever-connected world is on 2pm on June 21 (following a date change to avoid the England v Wales fixture in Euro 2016). Click to find out more and register for the free event.

Click to visit the Internet Retailing webinars page to catch up on the latest webinars, which are also available to view again on the IRTV channel.

Event presentations and interviews

Catch up with presentations and other interviews from IRC 2015 on the event website now.

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