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Editor’s Comment (IRM56)

Christmas seems like an age ago now as the editorial inbox fills up with innovations, plans and launches for 2016. The peak season cannot be ignored though since more than a fifth of everything bought online (excluding travel), is purchased during the 8 weeks between 1 November and Christmas Day. The IMRG also says that 17% of those Christmas purchases were made during Black Friday week with online now accounting for 27% of the total retail market. £114bn was spent online in the UK in 2015 and the market is predicted to carry on growing this year.

While Black Friday went off without 2014’s delivery issues, some customers were still left ‘on hold’ waiting to get onto online stores to grab their bargains. Looking at the leading retailers’ web traffic levels from desktops compared to an average Friday, Amazon UK received double its usual amount of visits on Black Friday, while traffic to Argos was up over 200%. According to Similarweb, House of Fraser with a 26.6% increase also saw the biggest year-on-year growth on Black Friday when mobile traffic was factored in too. Debenhams [IRDX RARC] (23.7%), New Look (15%), Etsy (15%) and Boots (10%) also saw increases. Other retailers though saw a drop in traffic from 2014’s level as promotions were spread out over a longer time period in a bid to ease out the peak weekend.

This is something that New Look thinks retailers should be looking at for peak 2016 so that they don’t see a softening of sales in early November before hitting the peak during the last week of November. Retailers will still need to give shoppers access to great offers but without any degradation of service, believes Jack Smith, Digital Director of New Look. He joins New Look’s Ecommerce Director, Sally Heath, in explaining how the fashion retailer is replatforming as part of its strategy to become a global multichannel retailer for men and women.

In this issue of InternetRetailing, we explore an industry on the cusp of maturity; one in which mobile is no longer referred to as a separate channel and the customer is placed at the heart of the organisation. We also take a look at what it means to be a mature multi-/cross-/omni-channel retailer. Fran Riseley, Deputy Managing Director, Martec International examines the impact of omnichannel on retail systems and predicts the changes ahead for retailers and vendors in 2016 while Giles Delafeld, CIO, Clarks asks whether 2016 is the year in which everyone hires a Chief Customer Officer. We’d love to hear thoughts from other retailers too on how the industry is changing so contact me if you’re interested in appearing in print.

With an industry talking about customer experience, what does it mean for customers and retailers in the high streets and what will retailers be doing in 2016 to encourage customers to keep visiting through all channels? Gregor Jackson, Director and Founding Partner, gpstudio, explores how things are changing between channels and says that if 2015 is anything to go by, 2016 is set to shake up the retail market and define the trend setters from the mass market. His article give interesting pause for thought. We also look at how delivery is disrupting the retail industry.

Mobile though, is where the changes are still taking place. According to Similarweb’s monitoring of Black Friday and Christmas 2015, last year was the year of the app, with the leading sites providing a seamless service across their apps, mobile and desktop. Over the full year, m-retail recorded growth of 42%, says IMRG, with mobile now accounting for 45% of all online sales; most of that growth is coming from tablets which saw an increase over the year of 31%, compared to smartphones’ increase of just 12%. Some 69% of all m-retail sales in 2015 were from tablets.

Understanding where a technology such as mobile will be in a year’s time is quite a tough task. Predicting how it will reshape retail over the next ten years is trickier still. InternetRetailing Mobile Editor, Paul Skeldon, was given this task. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts too.

Mobile is just one of the topics that will be discussed at the InternetRetailing Expo which is taking place for the sixth year at Birmingham’s NEC on 27 and 28 April. Speakers from Schuh, Sainsbury’s Tesco and M&S will all be sharing their thoughts on mobile in multichannel and how understanding mobile as a remote control for retailers is now key. The store of the future, international, merchandising and customer experience will all be covered as 8 conferences, 15 clinics, 20 workshops, 300+ exhibitors and 6,000+ visitors come together. I look forward to seeing you there.

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