We’re reporting in today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, as the growth of ecommerce continues to challenge the pre-eminent role that the store still has in today’s retail. In that, we’re particularly struck by Majestic Wine’s plans to put its Naked Wines pureplay at the centre of the business. More details are to come later in the year, but as yet it’s clear that the wine merchant wants to close some - or even many – of the existing Majestic Wines stores and to rebrand those that remain as Naked Wines.
The move is interesting because it sees an online business go about what almost looks like a reverse takeover of a multichannel retailer, keeping, potentially, only those stores that remain useful to the ecommerce model. It’s also interesting because the Naked Wines model is currently members-only. Will customers be able to shop in the same way as they currently do from Majestic? That’s a detail that remains to be seen.
Moss Bros, too, will be rethinking the role of its stores after a year in which footfall to its 129 stores fell, but online sales rose. Echoing comments from fashion retailer Next last week, it says it still needs the stores in order to service its ecommerce business just as much as those customers who choose to browse and buy in-store.
Meanwhile, Ocado is moving beyond ecommerce to focus on what could prove to be the real money-making part of its business, the technology. It has a new customer for that technology - Australian supermarket group Coles, which shares an interesting take on why it’s chosen to buy from Ocado. Because, says Coles Group chief executive Steven Cain, “Ocado is singularly focused on online grocery it’s become the best in the world” - and the move to partner with Ocado will make life easier for Coles’ customers.
Is Sports Direct, then, taking a step backwards as it considers bidding for its second department store of the year? If it does go ahead, then Mike Ashley will have won his coveted prize – but to what end? In doing so he will face debts and questions about how he sees department stores evolving to be relevant to shoppers who find it increasingly easy and convenient to shop online.
Today’s guest comment is from Dan Whytock of Downyourhighstreet.com, who presents a counterbalancing view of how digital can can help to revitalise the high street.
Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon