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Editor’s Comment (IRM54)

Cross-channel has moved beyond single retailers with shoppers able to collect their purchases from retailers both within the same retail group and from those outside. Shoppers can pick up their eBay purchases from Argos shops in the UK and, in China, Alibaba and consumer electronics retailer Suning are doing the same.

Some pureplay retailers are moving into the high street through concessions, pop ups and their own shops. Shopping centres too are getting closer to shoppers, running their own transactional sites featuring their tenant retail brands and incorporating click and collection points on their premises. Online, maketplaces continue their march with more than 50 companies now operating over 220 online marketplaces in Europe alone.

All of this movement of customers’ orders results in parcel deliveries which are convenient for customers but don’t come without a price for retailers. “Ask omnichannel CEOs about the profitability of their online orders and the answer is unlikely to be one of unremitting glee,” says Penelope Ody in her article in this issue. According to the annual JDA and PwC CEO survey, fewer than two in 10 respondents could say that they were fulfilling omnichannel orders profitably: put another way it could mean that 81% of retailers cannot make a profit from omnichannel delivery.

Quote these figures to retail consultants and the response is disbelief: not surprise that so few are making profits on these orders, but incredulity that any of them actually are.

Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis, has referred to free delivery services as “bonkers” and “unsustainable”. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the retailer has introduced a £30 threshold for free delivery of Click & Collect orders.

Has the time come then when the focus moves from IT to further developing the proposition into a model that is convenient for customers and sustainable for retailers? As Andy Gault, Director of e-Commerce, at Screwfix comments: “anyone can put technology in place to offer Click & Collect”.

Andy Gault and Screwfix CEO Andrew Livingston, who feature on the cover and in this issue’s main interview, shed light on the Screwfix proposition of offering click and collect from just 5 minutes after a customer places an order.

Screwfix is also one of the shortlisted nominees for InternetRetailing’s B2B multichannel Award. With the awards ceremony taking place on 24 September there’s still time to get your ticket.

Cross-channel retailing continues to alter the retail industry both in the transformation within the business and what the customer sees and experiences. Mobile has had a everlasting effect on cross-channel and is still seen as the glue between digital and physical channels. A decade ago, neither Apple’s iPad nor the iPhone had been released and now retailers are having to personalise the experience across these devices, desktop and in store while also ensuring that their in-store technology is future proof. James Pepper, Technical Director of Vista Retail Support shares his expertise on planning and implementing mobile in store in this issue of InternetRetailing.

October 14 sees the tenth annual InternetRetailing Conference taking place in London. It takes a decadian theme as it looks to the fundamentals of multichannel retail, looking past the trends – which in this fast-changing industry every twitch, innovation and new opportunity can be hailed as a trend – to assess the longer term directions and currents.

By being part of the fabric of retail and multichannel over the past decade, the three keynote speakers are able to analyse the past and focus on the future when they stand up to speak to delegates. They are aware that the coming decade is a time of full integration, of digital leadership transforming the organisation and also a time of customer expectation and intolerance for anything less than excellence. As they look forward, the notion of a ‘decade’ might lull the industry into just awaiting a rosy future but as they know action is needed on a daily basis and so as the keynotes consider the future, the industry must adopt a ‘520-week’ view that helps balance the urgency of “now” with the importance of the “next”.

October also sees the inaugural eDelivery Conference being held on 13 October.

With the conferences pulling in speakers from John Lewis, Argos, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer, delegates will hear some inspirational cross-channel journeys and have plenty to take away from either of the two days.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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