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Sainsbury’s Argos and Superdry on what makes the difference to business growth right now

Sainsbury's and subsidiary Argos are enjoying strong growth in grocery and general merchandise

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re looking at what makes the difference for retailers are prospering in a multichannel world, while contrasting their success with a high street that, said veteran retailer Bill Grimsey this week, is set to vanish into the history books unless action is taken.

We’re report on Superdry, which this week posted a 25% rise in online sales, and said it was focusing on ’capital light’ expansion, and on Sainsbury’s Argos, which is showing strong online growth both in groceries and general merchandise as it makes it easier for shoppers to get their stuff faster, thanks to same-day deliveries and collection. Both are making the customer experience easier – and both are seeing their overall sales rise as a result. And there’s another difference too: both are using technology in their stores in order to improve their customer service.

We also report as eBay takes on Amazon, launching its Sales Day in the face of Amazon’s Prime Day – with the added benefit of no membership fees. 

Meanwhile, Bill Grimsey this week warned that high streets were bound for the history books unless there was action to promote town centres as digitally-connected centres, and to deal with the “colossus” of business rates. In the same week, Chancellor Philip Hammond is reported to have said that it was making progress on a digital tax, but would leave business rates as they were. The high street conundrum doesn’t seem to be making progress just yet.

As seen at Superdry and Sainsbury’s Argos, it’s a combination of convenience with technology-driven service that is making a huge difference for national and global retailers. But there’s no reason this couldn’t work for local retailers too on our high streets. I’ve a personal interest in this today, having come this week from a school induction day where the sports kit supplier had a stall, showing what the children had to have, and then announcing that the business didn’t do ’that online thing’. Instead, the suggestion came, ’why not make a day of it’ and visit the seaside resort, some 20 miles away from my home, where it has its only outlet. Having to take a day out to buy sports kit is so far away from the rest of the current retail experience – and yet it illustrates where some high street retailers are today, and how markedly they are at odd with current customer expectations. High street retailing done like that is deservedly set for extinction – and yet, I’d suggest most shoppers still want to be able to buy local things, close to home. High streets that can capitalise on that desire could still boom. As Bill Grimsey said this week, the time for that action is now. 

Today’s timely guest comment comes from Jamie Merrick of Salesforce on why the luxury retail market needs to take ecommerce seriously. 


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