Monthly Retail Round-Up - January 2018

Some of the best articles from the world of retail and its supporting industries.

Monthly Retail Round-Up - January 2018

The retail industry moves at a rapid pace and is constantly changing. This, paired with new technological advancements means it can be difficult to keep up.

At Dressipi we like to be right up to date and think you should be too! So, what better way to be in the know than with a round-up of the most interesting stories we’ve come across this month?

1) KPMG’s Annual Retail Survey 2018

January saw the release of KPMG’s Annual Retail Survey 2018. The extensive report looks at the ‘buying, returns and brand experience of over 1,600 KPMG employees in their capacity as consumers’.

As well as giving insight on Black Friday, increasing mobile usage, Brexit and sales processes, the report focuses heavily on the shifting expectations of customers when it comes to shopping experiences both online and in-store.

The segment ‘Improving the customer experience, are retailers ahead of the pack?’ highlighted the important role of retail in driving better customer experiences, something that should be increasingly possible given recent advancements in AI, Machine Learning and using customer data in a more meaningful way.

Mounting pressure from customers for outstanding services (such as better transactional experiences, a greater choice when it comes to delivery options, personalization, a greater focus on sustainability, or more flexible returns) means it is essential for retailers to stay ahead of the curve. As the report boldly states, ‘retailers are faced with a stark choice: innovate around the consumer and catch up, or get left behind’.

You can read the full report by downloading it from the KPMG website.

2) Zara launches new online-only store

Zara continues to surge ahead as a leader in retail as it opens its new online-only store in London. As reported by Drapers, the Westfield Stratford City store ‘will offer a small edit of women’s and men’s clothing for online purchase directly in store, as well as access to the retailer’s full catalogue online’. Store staff will also play a crucial role, assisting customers with mobile devices.

Trialling technologies is nothing new for the Spanish giant as they continually experiment with different store concepts to merge online and offline experiences. New mirror, RFID and scanning technology coupled with product recommendation systems highlight the importance of, and increasing demand for, access to personalization services whilst shopping.

Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla has called it “another milestone in our strategy of integrating our stores with the online world, which defines our identity as a business”.

Dressipi’s Style Director, Natalie Theo recently wrote a blog post on Zara’s self-checkout stations, once again, displaying Zara’s desire to be seen as a leader in creating seamless in-store experiences that are relevant and enjoyable for customers.

3) Asos profits rise, but can they ever beat Amazon?

The Business of Fashion reported on Asos Plc’s recently published results. Sales in the UK (Asos’s largest market) rose 23% to £300.9 million in the four months ended December 31st.

BoF stated that Asos ‘profited at the expense of its store-based rivals’, emphasising the growing influence of pureplays, and the increasing need for bricks and mortar retailers to step up their in-store offering if they are to differentiate themselves.

But even Asos are trying to find ways to defend themselves against the likes of Amazon, who continue to innovate, introducing services such as same-day delivery. According to the FT, Amazon are ‘set to overtake Macy’s to be the largest seller of clothing to Americans this year’. Analysts Nomura estimate that ‘apparel could be a $45bn-$85bn business for Amazon by 2020’. These statistics are a very real threat as they make fashion their top priority.

If the likes of Asos are taking measures to differentiate themselves, then bricks and mortar retailers should even more so. A recent article by CNBC states that brands are in a constant battle for claiming a greater share of customer spend, ‘Retailers are finding their websites must mimic some of the same experiences that could be offered in a physical store, bringing the same level of expertise that an associate would give in helping a customer make a selection’.

4) WIRED’s six ways that new technology will revolutionise shopping

With constant reports of store closures (896 high street shops closed in 2016) and declining footfall, WIRED is adamant that ‘Retailers must combine emotion with innovation if they want to survive growing consumer demand and economic pressure’.

The article puts an emphasis on re-thinking personal assistance using AI, as well as improving payment methods. You can find another really interesting article here by KamCity on how despite the launch of new check-out free technology (Amazon Go), human interaction is still very important and will be used to ‘complement and enhance the relationships customers have with human sales staff’.

The WIRED article also comments on how luxury retailers must think more strategically about extending conversations they have with their customers in-store into ‘after-sales care and analytics’.

We hope you enjoyed the round-up. Please feel free to get in touch with any stories you feel would be of interest.

Photo by Simon Launay from Unsplash.