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The UK votes out: what now for online and multichannel retailers?

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In today’s Internet Retailing newsletter, we’re reeling at the news that the UK has voted to leave the European Union. What does Brexit mean for this industry? We’ve taken some initial soundings in a piece that we’ll update through the day. But in truth, it’s too soon to say what the long-term will bring. These are deeply uncertain times – and uncertainty is good for no-one. As a nation of service providers – and as net importers of goods – access to markets is not guaranteed and the price of goods will be volatile as the pound moves sharply against both the euro and the dollar. Traders selling into Europe, whether through their own websites or on European marketplaces, will benefit from the weak pound when they sell, but lose out when they buy stock in the dollar, euro and likely other currencies. Uncertainty will govern investment decisions that are being taken now, and that is likely to mean a weaker economy at least in the short term.

But for the moment, we’re still members of the EU and nothing changes except attitude. Over the next two years, and beyond, the UK will still be trading with Europe. The UK ecommerce and multichannel industry remains a leader not only in Europe. Retailers are already highly competitive in their approach to innovation and their progress in omnichannel trading and we have confidence in their ability to carry on trading in the future. However, omnichannel retailing today is all about the customer, and should the customer’s confidence evaporate then the impact on retail as a whole will be more challenging than this generation of retailers has had to face. For the moment, it’s up to the retail industry to continue to innovate and to work with European partners to remain at the forefront of the industry worldwide – and in this spirit we move on to the launch next week of the InternetRetailing Europe Top500 and the upcoming InternetRetailing Berlin Summit.

Online and multichannel retailers are now trading in a world where shoppers’ geographic location is becoming less and less important. Clearly, most UK retailers will continue to do business in Europe – and we hope and believe they will continue lead the continent in doing so. Today we carry interviews with two leading European retailers who are taking part in next week’s first InternetRetailing Summit, to be held in Berlin. Stephen Richards of talks about anytime, anywhere fulfilment, while Jens Reich of Mister Spex speaks on the subject of the seamless customer experience.

Today we’re also reporting on UK retailers as they innovate and adapt to the new way that shoppers want to buy – typical of the reasons why this market currently leads the continent, both in terms of the amount shoppers spend with UK retailers, and the amount that retailers turnover from both domestic and international customers. Today we report on Tesco’s strategy of streamlining its online platforms and charging for delivery in order to keep multichannel customer service “sustainable”. We report as Debenhams says more than half of its online sales now come via mobile, and as learns from its customer insights to launch a data-driven own label brand.

Today’s guest comment comes from James Pepper of Vista Retail Services, who considers a future of cognitive commerce.

Our research

The IRUK Top500 2016 and the first 2016 dimension reports, the first on 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

The next InternetRetailing webinar considers how retailers can rise to the challenge of understanding and analysing their data while keeping costs down. Delphix retail director Milan Kotecha, retail director, and solution architect Wylde Marais will be joining the webinar with their analysis of how to improve the business of business intelligence in omnichannel retail businesses. Unifying Data Collection for Frictionless Shopping, an IT perspective, is at 2pm on July 12. Click here for more information and to register for the free event.

A week later we’ll be joined by Thomas Jeanjean, regional managing director, EMEA – mid-market, at Criteo, who will consider how to get the most out of mobile marketing. It’s a cross-device world: how to navigate mobile marketing’s next big opportunity is at 2pm on July 19. Click here to find out more and to 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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