Business Technology: Retail

Published: 17 January 2014

With Christmas results now fully dissected and performance in the January Sales to come next, it’s all eyes on the Retail sector. This Noel saw mixed fortunes. Value brands with simple store formats fared incredibly well, but If there was one overall winner it was online.

In the main it was the bigger brands that have been able to really maximise their online presence. Retailers such as John Lewis, House of Fraser and M&S all saw substantive increases in online sales. It was a ‘double’ win; substantial year on year sales growth, coupled with growth in customer numbers. And both new customers and old are choosing to browse and shop wherever, whenever, on smartphones and tablets. The continued rise and rise of ‘Click & Collect’ and ‘Click & Reserve’ style schemes is a further testament to customers truly embracing omni-channel retailing. This link to a great BBC article offers the facts and figures.

Yesterday’s news that five UK lenders are providing customers with the ability to use the app; ‘Zapp’. It is an app which enables secure online payment through smartphones with real-time account balances. This level of adoption is a clear indicator that ‘the money’ believes in omni-channel too. Barclays are persist with the Ping It, O2 are due to be closing down their mobile wallet offering imminently, so expect to see further innovation in this space as the ‘right’ smart payments solutions evolve. Greater choice and functionality, will deliver greater confidence for the consumer. Clearly retailers must continue to strive to get the channel and price mix right, but innovation will continue to accelerate customer adoption, sales and online success.

Matt Cockbill is a Partner and Head of Technology & EMI Practices for Berwick Partners, and once worked in a shop!

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