In the three months to June, the quantity of retail sales rose by 2.1 per cent, the largest increase since February 2015. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) report found food stores having the strongest growth since May 2001 at 2.2 per cent, with feedback from supermarkets suggesting that the continued good weather and World Cup had encouraged sales.
Seven in 10 Millennials would be more likely to shop with a retailer that was enhancing its shopping experience with innovative technology, according to a new study. The survey of 2,000 British consumers, published by Hitachi Consulting, revealed the attitudes to technology of different generations and incomes – identifying Millennials as the group retailers can target to boost sales and grow market share.
The retail sector was the only area of the UK commercial property market to post an outright decline in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The results of the survey found that the downturn across the retail sector is intensifying, with stores in secondary locations showing “particularly negative rental and capital value projections” and 53 per cent more respondents noting a downfall in demand over the period.
Hotel Chocolat has published its trading update for the full year to 1 July 2018, revealing revenues of £116 million – an increase of 12 per cent year-on-year. Over the course of the year, the retailer added 200,000 new online buyers and opened 15 new stores – contributing six per cent to the group sales. Hotel Chocolat has also developed a number of innovative, digital-first products for the upcoming season.
Debenhams has updated its flagship Oxford Street department store with a new 20 metre dynamic window installation from retail display manufacturer Unibox. With window promotions changing more than 10 times every year, Debenhams was looking to introduce a display that could be easily reconfigured. Unibox engineered a custom specification of its Kinetik LED Lightbox - which features dynamic LEDs that augment a tension fabric graphic - allowing the Debenhams team to amalgamate replaceable graphics and physical product display.
UK online retail sales were up strongly again during June, as the hot weather and start of the World Cup spurred a 16.9 per cent year-on-year growth, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. Both multichannel and online-only retailers performed well – up 14.8 per cent and 18.7 per cent respectively. The largest sector increase was seen in garden, with a 49.9 per cent year-on-year growth, as the nation prepared for barbeques and basked in the hot weather. This was followed by clothing, with the sun inspiring a year-on-year growth of 19.3 per cent.
Supermarket chain Asda has entered into consultation to close its distribution centre in North London, as a lack of automation means the retailer is not meeting its fulfilment requirements. The site, which opened in 2010, currently employs 261 colleagues and delivers home shopping to around 4,500 customers each week. The proposal follows the opening of two fully-automated distribution centres in London over the past 18 months – one in Heston in July 2017 and one in Dartford two months ago.
Online furniture retailer Swoon has partnered with payments provider Klarna to offer its customers new types of financing. When checking out online, shoppers will now be able to use Slice it, a Klarna tool which cuts costs into monthly instalments — with payments of £500 or more being spread over six months and those more than £1,000 over 12 months.
John Lewis has revealed plans to overhaul several of its stores in a bid to fight falling sales and profits. The following 17 outposts will be turned into ‘pilot shops’ from September: Oxford Street, Bluewater, Cheadle, White City, Cheltenham, Southampton, Glasgow, Nottingham, Peter Jones, Oxford, Milton Keynes, High Wycombe, Cribbs Causeway, Stratford, Leeds, Southampton and Nottingham.
The government has appointed a panel of experts to diagnose issues that currently affect the health of the UK’s High Streets and advise on practical measures to help them thrive now and in the future. High Streets minister Jake Berry announced that the panel will be chaired by Timpson chairman John Timpson, along with Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive at Power to Change; Gi Fernando, founder of Freeformers; Graham Galpin, a councillor from Ashford council; Emma Mackenzie, director at NewRiver; Eric Reynolds, founding director of Urban Space Management; Stephen Robertson, former director general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC); and Sophia de Sousa, chief executive at The Glass-House.
UK consumers are looking for innovative, digital payment experiences with their banks, according to a new YouGov survey on behalf of Ondot. The results found that online security and fraud prevention tops the list of what British consumers think banks should guarantee – with 60 per cent wanting peace of mind when using their cards online. The survey also discovered that consumers are keen to play a much more proactive role in managing their personal finances.
Research into the behaviour of NikePlus members in Los Angeles has led the footwear and clothing brand to open a new concept store on Melrose Avenue. Nike by Melrose opened its doors last week, operating as an “experimental digital-meets-physical retail pilot”, according to the company, although the bricks and mortar will remain, with products and services tested there “based on a deep understanding of the neighbourhood”.
Mastercard has announced a partnership with payments technology firm Worldpay, focused on expanding acceptance options and making digital payments more convenient and secure. Through the partnership, Worldpay will offer Mastercard’s Pay by Bank app to merchants in the UK starting in early 2019. Pay by Bank enables customers of UK businesses to make online payments for goods via their mobile banking app, directly from their bank account.
UK footfall in June dropped 0.9 per cent from 2017, when footfall increased by 0.8 per cent, according to the latest figures from BRC. The High Street saw growth of 0.1 per cent, representing the second month of consecutive growth since November 2017. Retail parks experienced a decline of -0.4 per cent in June against also a tough comparable of 2.3 per cent last year, while shopping centres saw a 3.4 per cent decline in footfall – representing the 15th month of consecutive decline.
Ahead of today’s Amazon Prime Day, research has revealed Amazon is the preferred starting point for shopping (51 per cent) and is where consumers complete the majority of their online purchases (55 per cent). Over 3,500 consumers who shop online across the US and UK were surveyed by e-commerce consultancy Salmon, finding that Amazon captures a significant share of online spending – 35 per cent in the UK and 52 per cent in the US. While 72 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop with retailers that are digitally innovative - up from 60 per cent in 2017 - many retailers are still failing to meet these expectations.
Japanese payments firm Paidy has seured $55 million in a Series C funding round, led by ITOCHU Corporation, with participation from Goldman Sachs. Paidy provides an instant post-pay credit service for e-commerce customers in Japan. No pre-registration or credit card is required to use Paidy; customers simply purchase products online using a mobile phone number and email address, settling a single monthly bill via bank transfer, auto credit or at a convenience store.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for further clarity around the government’s Brexit plans, following yesterday’s publications of a new white paper. Among the new details contained within the document was the proposal that businesses should be able to move “their talented people” from the UK to the European Union - and vice versa - with the UK government prepared to allow EU citizens to travel freely without a visa in the UK for tourism and temporary work.
Retailers consider security of both cash and staff to be the strongest drivers for investing in new cash technology, according to a new report from RBR. The study found that retailers in countries which have strong cash usage as well as general concerns around security are likely to gain the most from retail cash automation. In countries like the US, Brazil and South Africa, security concerns are considered paramount.
Verifone and Bluefin have partnered to provide the latter’s Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) security solution to merchants using the former’s POINT or Retail Transaction Switch (RTS) solutions. Merchants can reduce not only the cost incurred when trying to comply with PCI Payment Application Data Security Standards, but also mitigate the risk associated with face-to-face payments.
Homewares retailer Dunelm Group has reported broadly flat (0.1 per cent increase) total like-for-like revenues during the last quarter were broadly flat year-on-year, saved by “continuing strong performance” from its online channel, which achieved growth of 41.8 per cent. The trading update for the 13-week period ended 30 June 2018 revealed weak footfall in physical shops, leading to a 4.6 per cent decline in sales.
Luxury fashion brand Emma Willis has partnered with retail software firm Esperus Systems to upgrade the management systems at its central London store. The retailer has implemented new AURES hardware that has multiple configuration options and touchscreen functionality. The cloud-based platform will manage the company’s stock control and customer data, including financial reports.
Long queues are the biggest turn-off for UK shoppers, whose abandoned baskets are costing retailers up to £12 billion each year. This is according to new research from Adyen, which suggests that British retailers are struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for improved customer experience in-store. The payments platform commissioned 451 Research to survey 1,000 UK consumers and 100 senior retail decision makers during the second quarter of this year.
ASOS has reported retail sales up 22 per cent to £823.9 million in the four months to 30 June. This broke down into UK retail sales up 23 per cent to £288 million, EU sales up 31 per cent to £257.4 million, and US sales up 15 per cent to £108.1 million.
A new study has revealed that 44 per cent of companies reported a “significant increase” in both growth and revenue generation as a result of using customer analytics, while 58 per cent reported significant improvements in customer retention and loyalty. However, only 16 per cent considered their brands “very effective” at delivering real-time interactions across various channels, with 30 per cent indicating they were “not effective at all”.
eBay UK has unveiled Image Search – a new artificial intelligence (AI) based feature for shoppers to use pictures instead of words to search the marketplace’s catalogue of items. The new technology enables consumers to take a photo or use an existing photo of an item they want to purchase and enter it into the search bar. eBay will then surface listings that are a close match or visually similar so users can purchase.
Westminster Council has agreed to invest £727,000 in the transformation of Oxford Street, turning the shopping district into a “global, iconic destination”. The new scheme is in response to the long-term challenges facing the High Street, including poor air quality, the changing nature of retail and safety issues related to the opening of the Elizabeth Line. The council wants to ensure that Oxford Street remains a must-visit destination for visitors from London and around the world.
Online fashion retailer N Brown has seen a 12 per cent uplift in new visitor conversion using optimisation and personalisation tools from Monetate and Taggstar. N Brown deployed advanced testing, segmentation and geo-location capabilities of Monetate to tailor the real-time Taggstar messages on its JD Williams, SimplyBe and Jacamo brands. Taggstar’s technology pulls crowd-sourced real-time data about product popularity and other trends derived from customer browsing history – including the number of people viewing an item, product reviews and ratings, top trending items and product scarcity.
Almost a third of UK customers are willing to share more personal data to improve their shopping experience, although they are less willing to hand it over than their European counterparts. Experience personalisation firm RichRelevance surveyed 2,577 respondents across the UK, France and Germany, finding that 32 per cent of UK customers are unwilling to hand over more data to retailers, compared with 31 per cent in France and 25 per cent in Germany.
Ocado has revealed a £9 million loss in its half-year report, caused by continued investment in expanding IT systems and warehousing capacity, compared to a pre-tax profit of £7.7 million during the first six months of last year. Underlying earnings also fell 13.9 per cent year-on-year to £38.9 million, while revenue growth slowed to 11.7 per cent year-on-year, something the delivery retailer blamed on the ‘Beast from the East’ storms earlier this year.
In June, UK retail sales increased by 1.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis from June 2017, when they had increased 1.2 per cent from the preceding year. The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG showed that on a total basis, sales increased 2.3 per cent in June, against an increase of 2 per cent in June 2017.
The John Lewis Partnership has announced it has selected three finalists to join its retail tech innovation programme JLAB. The first JLAB pitch day of 2018 whittled down over 100 start-ups and established businesses to a shortlist of 11, which then pitched to a panel of six senior leaders from across John Lewis.
As established High Street retail brands struggle with large store footprints and lost sales to e-commerce, new research has revealed that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of UK consumers want the government to do more to back the growth of independent retailers. Marketing automation firm Pure360 commissioned YouGov to poll a representative sample of British consumers, finding that nearly half (42 per cent) would consider shopping with an independent retailer because they prefer to support smaller operations over a larger retailer.
Matalan’s revenue has grown by 4.9 per cent during the first quarter, backed by both in-store performance and 39 per cent growth of its online channel. For the 13 week period ending May 26, the value fashion retailer’s total revenue was £265.9 million, compared to the £253.4 million over the same period last year.
Figures released today by business advisory firm BDO have revealed that UK High Street sales declined 1.7 per cent year-on-year in June, marking the first time in at least 12 years that in-store growth has failed to exceed 1 per cent in a single month for the first half of a calendar year. BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker figures also marked the fifth successive month of negative in-store growth.
Walgreens Boots Alliance has taken a 40 per cent minority stake in Chinese pharmacy retailer Sinopharm Holding GuoDa Drugstores. Boots’ US parent company acquired the equity through a capital increase worth CNY 2.76 billion. Its chief executive Stefano Pessina said the Chinese retailer held a strong position in the sector.
The chancellor has responded to calls for changes to retailers’ business rates, but stopped short of any action for the time being. In a letter responding to the Treasury Committee, Philip Hammond stated that the government recognises business rates can represent a high fixed cost of some businesses, adding: “That is why we have taken repeated action to cut the burden of business rates, announcing reforms and reductions worth over £10 billion by 2023.”
European Union regulations coming into place next September will lead to a significant increase in the use of biometric technology to authenticate who is paying, according to Mastercard. In terms of card payments, currently just 1-2 per cent of online transactions require cardholder authentication to complete a transaction - mostly likely using a password - but this is set to rise to 25 per cent from next autumn.
The average retailers’ data is only about 75 per cent accurate when it comes to knowing exactly what inventory is actually in stock at any particular time. This problem is often compounded by retailers continually managing stock across multiple channels and increasingly having to stay on top of consumer demands for up-to-the-minute, reliable information.
Retail technology firm JDA Software has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue Yonder – a market specialist in artificial intelligence (AI) retail solutions. The acquisition builds on JDA’s strategy of developing cognitive and connected solutions to power digital transformations for companies seeking to improve their supply chain technology.
Luxury fashion brand Jules B has experienced a 40 per cent revenue increase since revamping its digital marketing strategy. The retailer partnered with e-commerce agency Visualsoft to help increase its digital presence and boost brand awareness both in the UK and internationally. The design of the website was overhauled, while a 360 degree marketing approach was implemented.
Primark has bucked the UK High Street trend and reported sales up six per cent during the 40 weeks to June 23, up seven per cent on last year at actual exchange rates. The value fashion retailer’s parent company Associated British Foods said this growth was “marginally lower” than the performance delivered in the first half, although like-for-like sales over the quarter improved on those for the first half.
A new report has warned that retailers with slow-loading mobile websites will begin to be penalised by Google webs search from this month. The tech giant’s new Speed Update initiative, being implemented in July 2018, will officially make mobile page-speed a ranking factor, although it did state that only sites which “deliver the slowest experience to users” will be impacted, meaning only a “small percentage of queries”.
Alibaba has revealed plans for a new fashion outlet in Hong Kong powered by artificial intelligence (AI), demonstrating a new model for the digitisation of fashion retail. The technology has the ability to learn the latest fashion trends and tips from analysis of data generated by Alibaba’s ecosystem of sales, stylists and information from partner brands on Tmall, providing customers with personalised recommendations through in-store smart mirrors.
Sainsbury’s has published a trading statement for the three months to 30 June 2018, revealing 0.8 per cent growth in total retail sales, driven by a 7.3 per cent uplift in online sales. The supermarket chain has continued to invest in digital and online channels, with same-day online delivery now available from 171 stores, covering 57 per cent of UK households. Sainsbury’s also experienced its biggest ever sales week in convenience this quarter.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for a two-year freeze on business rates increases to provide some relief for the retail industry at a time when it is under significant cost pressure, and is going through a period of transformation driven by technology and changing consumer behaviour. The retail industry is the UK’s largest private sector employer, making up five per cent of the economy and paying nearly a quarter of the overall business rates bill – over £7 billion per year. The BRC argued this is a disproportionate burden and is leading to decisions to close stores, while at the same time getting in the way of the modernisation of Britain’s High Streets.
Online fashion retailer ASOS has announced that Danny McBride will be stepping down as chair and non-executive director in November this year, after a six-year tenure. McBride will be succeeded by Adam Crozier, who will be appointed as chair and non-executive director on 29 November 2018. Crozier has extensive boardroom experience, with directorships at Saatchi & Saatchi, Vue International, G4S, the Football Association, the Royal Mail, and most recently ITV, where he served as chief executive until June 2017.
Firms in retail and wholesale spent an average of £2,940 on cyber security in 2017-18 – a rise of 21 per cent on the previous year. This is according to new figures from the Business Continuity Institute and SavoyStewart, which found that 53 per cent of UK firms now consider a cyber attack as the main threat facing them in the near future. According to security professionals recently consulted by networking hardware company Cisco,
UK retailers have spent almost £827,000 on failed and £663,000 on cancelled digital transformation projects, new research has found. Fujitsu’s latest report found that a lack of direction behind digital projects is costing retailers, as almost three quarters admit to undertaking projects not linked to the overarching business strategy. Furthermore, six in 10 retailers said the cost of failed projects has put them off pursuing digital transformation in the future.
Merlin Entertainments has partnered with Alipay so Chinese tourists can use their Alipay app across the company’s London attractions, including Madame Tussauds, the London Eye and London Dungeon. Visitors will be able to collect discounted e-coupons when they book flights to London, as well as paying for souvenirs ahead of time. Alipay users with higher membership levels will also receive preferential foreign exchange rates.
Retailers are failing to provide a consistent omnichannel experience, according to research from commerce solutions provider PCMS. The study of 2,000 UK consumers found that just five per cent believe they received a ‘very consistent’ customer experience when comparing a retailer’s website to its app or store. When it comes to those retail sectors that shoppers believe best manage the omnichannel experience, grocery and supermarkets came out top of the list (30 per cent),
China’s JD.com has introduced a fleet of hydrogen energy delivery trucks to Shanghai, as part of a technology-based sustainability programme. Hydrogen-powered vehicles were chosen as alternatives to traditional vehicles run on carbon-based fuel, but the new technology requires experience to utilise effectively. The tanks take just three minutes to refill, with the trucks able to travel for 300km per tank while carrying up to 3.5 tonnes of cargo. The only omission released by the new vehicles is purified water.
Tesco and Carrefour are entering into a long-term, strategic alliance, covering their relationships with global suppliers, the joint purchasing of own brand products and goods not for resale. The alliance will be governed by a three-year operational framework and should be formally agreed within the next two months.
In the 11 Russian host cities of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, approximately one in five (17 per cent) purchases with Visa has used contactless technology. This is according to new data from Visa, which found that in the stadiums themselves, the share of contactless payments was 54 per cent, inclusive of purchases made by fans from Russia and abroad. On average, Visa cardholders have spent $56.65 per transaction, with fans from the US spending the most – followed by China and Mexico in second and third respectively.
In the 11 Russian host cities of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, approximately one in five (17 per cent) purchases with Visa has used contactless technology. This is according to new data from Visa, which found that in the stadiums themselves, the share of contactless payments was 54 per cent, inclusive of purchases made by fans from Russia and abroad. On average, Visa cardholders have spent $56.65 per transaction, with fans from the US spending the most – followed by China and Mexico in second and third respectively.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has stressed the importance of maintaining frictionless trade following a Brexit deal, in new research analysing the effect of ‘non-tariff barriers’. Currently, when goods enter the European Union from outside member countries, there is various checks and controls to slow down the transaction. There are 405 of these controls in total, with fresh beef facing 22 of these measures, strawberries 28 and pharmaceutical products 44.
For the first time in Italy, it is now possible to pay for tickets at the point of sale (PoS) terminals in Milan’s subway stations – following cities like London, Moscow, Chicago, Singapore and Vancouver. Made possible by technology from SIA, the upgrade marks a significant step in Milan’s digital transformation programme for public transport. SIA’s platform connects every PoS terminal on which contactless cards can be used to open the turnstiles of the 113 stations on the Milan subway network, as well as payment circuits and ATM’s fare calculation system.
Online retail parcel delivery order volumes were up 14.8 per cent year-on-year in May, according to the latest data from IMRG. According to the study, the uplift is in line with many indicators of retail performance in May, with multiple factors – including the royal wedding and good weather – driving shoppers to spend both online and in-store. Use of next-day or specified-day services reached a record high for May, accounting for 37 per cent of UK-delivered orders.
Some 48 per cent of the UK retail industry feels they are behind most competitors when it comes to technology, according to a new report from Unisys. Furthermore, the report found that 40 per cent of employees feel negative about their job and even frustrated to be working for their employer. The figures reveal a growing trend across the world, with 56 of digital workers at “technology laggard” organisations expressing frustration with their employer, compared to just nine per cent at “technology leader” organisations.
Ticketmaster has admitted that 40,000 customers’ personal information and credit card details have been compromised in a data breach on Saturday. The company said in a statement that its systems had been hit by “malicious software” through a third-party supplier to the site. Ticketmaster said that the affected accounts – five per cent of the firm’s customer base – have been contacted and advised to change their password.
Caffè Nero, Yoyo, DFS, Hilton, Nisa Retail, Bleep UK and Tommy Hilfiger were among the companies to pick up a trophy at the thirteenth annual Retail Systems Awards last night. Recognising technology excellence and innovation across the retail sector, the 2018 awards were hotly contested, with a number of stand-out entries. This year’s winners were revealed at a prestigious gala dinner and awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hotel in central London, hosted by comedian Kerry Goldiman.
The age old debate about using cash or new electronic methods was ignited again at a panel session about payments infrastructure – with one participant stating consumers are being pushed down routes where they have no choice. The Westminster Business Forum event on the future of payments in the UK was opened by New Payment System Operator (NPSO) chair Melanie Johnson, who laid out the work her organisation was doing to bring the country’s disparate payment systems under one umbrella.
John Lewis has outlined the next phase of its business strategy, with an increased focus on the whole business competing through differentiation and innovation. The retailer will continue to invest at a rate of £400-500 million each year and take further steps worth £500 million over three years to strengthen the balance sheet, while recognising the short-term pressure on profits.
Six in 10 retailers believe that lost sales in digital channels are a bigger concern than fraud, with 48 per cent stating that they are willing to face an increased risk of fraud if it means more sales. This is according to a new report from ACI Worldwide and Ovum, which found that one in four European merchants in the retail, travel and hospitality and digital goods sector has experienced data theft, with 61 per cent believing that they are at greater risk of a data security breach today than they were a year ago.
Oasis, Warehouse and Coast will leverage Aptos’ point of sale (PoS) solution, Aptos Store, across their stores. At 178 locations across the three brands, employees will be able to conduct more informed and personalised interactions, optimise checkout and returns processing, and improving store management and operations.
Wimbledon has enlisted the support of IBM to transform the way fans perceive the game of tennis, using artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver unique and authentic content. AI-powered automated video highlights are generated using IBM Watson and other technologies to show the most exciting moments of the tournament from the six main show courts. With an average of three matches per court, per day, video from the matches can quickly add up to hundreds of hours of footage which could take hours to pull together into highlight packages.
Two thirds of retailers plan to invest in machine learning to enhance their digital marketing campaigns, according to new research. Digital marketing agency QueryClick surveyed over 150 chief marketing officers for UK consumer brands with a revenue of over £150 million and an e-commerce offering, finding that over half (53 per cent) of retailers will invest in voice search technology within the next 12 months.
UK shoppers are returning £7 billion of purchases every year, according to Barclaycard, leading to a ‘phantom economy’ of lost revenue for retailers. The study found that a quarter of retailers have seen a rise in returns in-store and online over the last two years, with the number of returned items up by 22 per cent on average. The figures are higher among fashion, footwear and accessory retailers, with 37 per cent of these businesses reporting a rise in refunds since 2016.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has unveiled plans for a fully-automated wine store where people are able to make purchases through facial recognition. Customers to the store can be attended to by a machine, which is able to help them identify the product, obtain further information about it and facilitate the purchase through facial recognition. All bottles are embedded with a tracking tag, with nearby screens displaying further information when the bottle is picked up. Payments are automatically conducted through Alibaba’s Alipay payment platform.
House of Fraser has announced that the company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals launched on 6 June have been approved by the company’s creditors. The CVA enables House of Fraser to restructure its business to secure its future and access new capital from international retailer C.banner. The retailer hopes that the move will provide a more sustainable cost base and a platform for future growth. House of Fraser will now begin the process of working with landlords and other stakeholders to implement the proposals
PayPal look set to continue their spending spree with the $120 million acquisition of fraud prevention and risk management platform Simility. PayPal hopes that the purchase will enhance its ability to deliver fraud prevention and risk management solutions to merchants around the world. Merchants will gain access to fraud tools that can be customised to suit the needs of their business.
The US Supreme Court has moved to close a loophole which enabled online retailers to effectively sell items tax-free in states where they have no physical presence. The decision made in South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc on Thursday overturns a ruling from the Supreme Court in 1992, which ruled that the Constitution bans states from requiring businesses to collect sales tax unless they have a substantial connection to the state. The 1992 decision has helped support the e-commerce industry by allowing companies to sell nationwide without having to comply with complex tax networks.
The Bank of Ireland yesterday experienced technical problems with the processing of debit card transactions, leaving thousands of customers unable to withdraw money or pay for goods. According to the bank, one in seven customers were affected by the problem, which it stated has now been resolved.
Iceland has partnered with innovation specialist and investor L Marks to launch the Iceland Innovation Lab, tasked with supporting startup businesses in the retail sector through partnership and investment. The lab will help startup firms validate their business ideas with Iceland over the course of a nine-week partnership development programme. Senior members of the Iceland leadership and subject-matter experts across the sector will be on hand to provide mentorship, while participants will also have access to the retailer’s scale and network.
Marks and Spencer has signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft, with a view to “transform the retail experience using the power of artificial intelligence (AI)”. The two organisations will work together to explore how new technologies can be utilised within the retail environment to improve customer experience and optimise operations. A team of AI engineers and product personnel from Microsoft will collaborate with the M&S Retail Labs team to accelerate the retailer’s digital transformation plans.
Omnichannel retailers are lagging behind their pureplay counterparts, with 32 per cent of retailers still lacking next day delivery capabilities. This is according to a new report from Sorted, which surveyed 2,000 UK shoppers and 50 retailers. It found the 59 per cent of consumers want retailers to offer faster fulfilment, while 39 per cent of people do not expect to have to wait more than 24 hours for a delivery.
OP Financial Group has joined forces with Nets to make the Pivo Wallet Oy available for Finnish Nets merchants, both in-store and online. Following the agreement between Nets and Pivo Wallet Oy, Pivo payments will be available at selected shops that use Nets terminals and in online stores at a later date.
Dixons Carphone has reported underlying pre-tax profit down by 24 per cent to £382 million, compared to £500 million during the 2016-17 financial year. The group’s preliminary results for the year to 28 April showed like-for-like sales went up four per cent, with total revenue rising three per cent to £10.5 billion.
Retailers must prepare for the post-channel era, or risk getting left behind, according to the chairman of Outfittery and Made.com. Speaking at the eTail Europe conference, Susanne Given said that the current pre-occupation with multi and omnichannel strategies would fall away in the near future.
Stores are an asset, not a liability - despite the recent trend for retailers to reduce their bricks and mortar footprint - according to the chief technology officer at Sainsbury’s and Argos. Speaking at the eTail Europe conference this morning, George Goley also argued that the staff that work at those stores should also be viewed as an asset, rather than something to be downsized when trading is challenging.
Providing unique experiences to consumers and ensuring both in-store and online presences are connected will be vital to the future of many retailers, according to a new report. In the study, law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business provides an estimate of gross value added (GVA) growth and job creation within key cities across the UK, with a specific focus on the retail, leisure, tourism and food and drink industries. The report found that despite below-average year-on-year retail sales volume growth of 1.1 per cent in March 2018
Mobile point of sale (mPoS) devices connecting wirelessly or via mobile devices will account for 24 per cent of all point of sale transactions by 2023, according to new research. The study from Juniper found that mPoS devices, such as those from iZettle and Square, will account for 87 billion transactions by 2023, representing a threefold increase over an estimated 28 billion transactions in 2018.
PayPal has agreed to acquire global payout platform Hyperwallet for $400 million in cash. The deal enhances PayPal’s payout capabilities, improving its ability to provide an integrated suite of payment solutions to e-commerce platforms and marketplaces around the world, according to a statement.
A rare malfunction of hardware in one of Visa’s data centre was the cause of the outage that left millions of people across Europe unable to make card payments on 1 June. In an 11-page letter to Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, Visa detailed the reasons for the system failure, its effect on the UK and Visa’s response and plans for avoiding such problems in the future.
UK retail group Arcadia, which owns brands including Topshop, Burton and Miss Selfridge, has invested in data science-based technology to improve operational efficiency. The solution from Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) uses data science and product history to make the best markdown price recommendation, presented through an easy-to-use interface for merchandisers.
Voice interactions are the next evolution of customer interaction with retailers, following the evolutions of online and mobile. This is according to Karen Pepper, UK general manager of Amazon Pay, who noted that the two biggest trends among consumers at the moment are immediacy and personalisation. “Consumers want instant gratification, whether that streaming content or purchasing goods,” she said, speaking at eTail Europe conference today.
Simplicity is key to a successful online transformation programme, according to Ralph Tucker, chief product and supply chain officer at the N Brown Group. Speaking at the eTail conference in Westminster, Tucker stressed the importance of retailers getting the basics right when going through an online transformation process. He noted how Amazon are leading the way with innovation, through a simplistic approach which has become the norm across the industry.
Following positive results from the High Street, online retail sales in the UK were up 19.4 per cent year-on-year in May, marking the highest May growth since 2010. This is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, which suggested that the strong growth could be attributed to a number of factors, including the good weather, royal wedding, the FA Cup Final and two bank holidays.
JD.com and Google have announced a strategic partnership that will see Google invest $550 million in the Chinese e-commerce firm. The two companies plan to collaborate on a range of strategic initiatives, including joint development of retail solutions in Southeast Asia, the US and Europe. By applying JD’s supply chain and logistics expertise and Google’s technology strengths, the two companies aim to explore the creation of next generation retail infrastructure solutions, with the goal of offering helpful, personalised and frictionless shopping experiences.
John Lewis is trialling an app-based service in which customers can have any unwanted clothing bought from its 50 shops and website, collected from their home and paid for, regardless of condition. The service is currently being tested by over 100 John Lewis customers, with social enterprise Stuffstr, to help reduce the 300,000 tonnes of clothing which gets sent to landfill each year in the UK.
The popularity of contactless payments, online shopping and smartphones has led to debit cards overtaking cash as the most frequently used payment method in the UK, according to trade association UK Finance. Its latest report showed new technology, payment innovation and changing consumer habits contributed to 13.2 billion card payments at the end of 2017, overtaking cash payments (13.1 billion) for the first time.
There is a strong appetite among younger consumers for banking services from technology firms such as Amazon, Facebook, Google or Apple, as they could offer greater convenience and more personalised services. This is according to a new report from MuleSoft, which surveyed more than 8,000 consumers across the UK, US, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and Singapore. It found that one in three global consumers would consider using the likes of Amazon for banking services; a figure which rises to 52 per cent for those aged 18-34.
Customers using contactless payment cards in London can now view their journey history on the go following the latest update to the Transport for London (TfL) Oyster and contactless app. Half of all tube and rail pay as you go journeys in London are now regularly made using contactless payment cards or mobile devices. More than 17 million pay as you go journeys a week are now regularly made across public transport services, providing value, flexibility and convenience.
Tesco has published its trading results for the first quarter of 2018, revealing positive like-for-like sales growth for a tenth consecutive quarter. Group sales were up 1.8 per cent, with UK and Ireland recording 3.5 per cent growth. Since consolidating Booker on 5 March 2018, the cash and carry company has seen sales grow 14.3 per cent – driven by a strong underlying performance and new business contracts.
Iceland will be extending its market-first trial of the Diebold Nixdorf reverse vending machines across England, following positive results from London locations. The Food Warehouse Wolverhampton, which is part of the Iceland Food Group, will be trialling the machine at its Peel Centre store on Stafford Street for the next six months from today. Reverse vending machines reward individuals for recycling, by providing money or vouchers in return for empty containers.
Fenwick has selected Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud to deliver new digital shopping experiences. At the end of April, the historic department store chain announced it was consulting with staff over a proposed structural reorganisation, with the centralising of back office operations and launch of a website that supports online shopping.
N Brown Group, the parent company of fashion retailers JD Williams, Jacamo and Simple Be, is consulting on plans to close 20 stores, with the possible loss of around 240 jobs. The stores are being closed ahead of their lease expiry dates, with the decision being based on poor footfall figures and the fact they only generated two per cent of the group’s revenue and an earnings before tax loss of £3 million.
The quantity bought in the retail industry increased by 1.3 per cent in May, compared to the previous month, with growth across all main sectors. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail figures showed that the quantity bought saw a sharp increase to 3.9 per cent year-on-year growth in May, compared with 1.4 per cent in April, possibly due to a combination of warm weather and just 0.8 per cent year-on-year growth in May 2017.
Retailers who neglect effective analysis of their promotional campaigns risk losing their customers, according to new research. The survey by Revionics, which quizzed shoppers in the US, UK, France, Germany and Brazil, found that 37 per cent of respondents who received offers on items they would have paid full price for said the offer had neutral or negative impact. More than half of those consumers said they would be less likely to shop that store or brand in the future or that they reacted with annoyance.
Generation Z shoppers, those born from the mid-1990s, still value the in-store shopping experience, but would like it to be augmented by new technologies. This is according to a new study from Criteo, which surveyed over 2,000 Generation Z consumers (18-24 year-olds) across the US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil and Japan. It found that they crave novelty and experience, with a strong focus on omnichannel shopping. As a result of this, retailers must improve their websites and enhance store display and design. According to the survey, Gen Z want personalised experiences
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has launched a discussion paper about data in the payments industry. It stated that as payments-related data use is growing and becoming increasingly important, the regulator is examining how this can affect the payments industry and consumers.
More than a quarter (29 per cent) of UK small and medium businesses now give their customers the option to pay using an app in store – fuelled by the popularity of mobile payments apps such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. The research conducted by Verve Partners Research and commissioned by Verifone also found that almost a fifth (17 per cent) of micro businesses are also tapping into the trend and accepting payment apps.
Dixons Carphone has found a data breach involving 5.9 million payment cards and 1.2 million personal data records. As part of a review of systems and data, the company determined unauthorised access to certain data. It launched an investigation with cyber security experts and added extra security measures.
New research has suggested that 85 per cent of businesses will use voice technology - such as Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana voice-activated assistants - to communicate with customers within the next year. The survey from Pindrop, a voice security and authentication firm, found that currently only 28 per cent of businesses use the technology. Based on the findings, the number of businesses planning to use voice to speak and listen to their customers will triple.
New Look has reported an underlying operating loss of £74.3 million compared to last year’s profit of £97.6 million, which was also down from £174.7 million the previous year. The fashion retailer’s UK sales fell 11.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis, with website sales down 19 per cent. New Look brand like-for-like sales were down 11.4 per cent, although third party e-commerce sales were up 15.5 per cent for the full year ending March 24.
Ted Baker has reported a 4.2 per cent increase in group revenue for the first half of 2018, compared to the same period last year. The gains were driven by e-commerce sales - described as “an integral and increasingly important component within our retail channel” - increasing by 33.6 per cent during the period. Total retail sales rose by 0.7 per cent.
The number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices is set to exceed 50 billion by 2022, up from an estimated 21 billion in 2018. This is according to a new study from Juniper Research, which found that the 140 per cent growth will be driven by edge computing services (the processing of data away from the cloud and closer to the source), increasing both deployment scalability and security.
Retailers in the UK are unwilling to spend money on innovation, and even those that are keen do not think such proposals will make it past the board, according to new research. The Rimini Street study spoke to 300 senior IT and finance decision makers across Europe across a variety of sectors. Specifically within retail, it found that 27 per cent believe their companies will only plan to spend one to five per cent more on innovation.
Only 31 per cent of UK retail businesses are sufficiently prepared for the EU General Data Protection Regulations, despite the legislation coming into effect on 25 May. This is according to instantprint, which found that the switchover to new regulations has proved to be an expensive task for retailers, with 45 per cent having to reprint marketing materials to gain compliance, at an estimated cost of £352 for each retail campaign.
The British Retail Consortium has warned that Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) will be used more and more by retailers in the UK as pressure on bricks and mortar footprints and staffing overheads continues to intensify. “The retail industry is going through a transformation, driven by technology changing how people want to shop, rising costs, and weak wage growth,” read a statement. “It’s a challenging period, retailers are adapting, and it’s clear that the industry will look very different in the future.”
Over a third of UK consumers believe that the UK will be a cashless society within the next 10 years, according to new research from Equifax. Furthermore, some 53 per cent of 16-34 year olds believe the UK will be reliant on digital and card payments by 2028, compared to just 22 per cent of those aged 55 and above. Despite this, the survey also found that cash still has its place in society.
Footfall fell in May by 0.4 per cent on the previous year, although this was a marked improvement over March and April, which recorded declines of 6 and 3.3 per cent, respectively. The British Retail Consortium noted that while footfall was still down, May was a great month for sales - due to weather and following a poor comparable from last year - with in-store sales recording growth for the first time in two years.
The Emerging Payments Association (EPA) has published a response the HM Treasury’s call for evidence on cash and digital payments in the UK economy. The response lists a series of recommendations from the payments community on how government can encourage consumer adoption of new innovations and how the UK can become a less-cash society.
Ant Financial has agreed Series C equity financing totalling approximately $14 billion – believed to be the largest single fundraising round in history. It includes an RMB tranche raised by Ant Financial from domestic investors and a USD tranche raised by Ant International from international investors – which should increase the value of the Chinese group above $100 billion.
Almost three-quarters of Millennials still prefer stores to online shopping, according to a new report. Brand experience consultancy I-AM surveyed 2,000 18-to-35 year-olds living in several UK cities, finding that 74 per cent prefer physical stores, compared to just 26 per cent favouring online shopping.
Mastercard will soon be rolling out its Send platform, which allows financial institutions, FinTechs, digital customers and other businesses to send real-time payments to UK bank accounts and receive payments by the same means. The network is the first example of Mastercard’s integration of Vocalink and its real-time payment capabilities.
Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) of the UK’s top retailers are risking a significant drop in online visibility by neglecting their mobile site performance, according to new research. The report from Visualsoft found that a “worryingly low” number of retailers have taken strides to improve mobile site speed since the launch of Google’s Speed Update study. The study rates sites that load in under four seconds as “excellent”, with research indicating that 50 per cent of users now expect a site to load within two seconds.
Paysafe has announced a partnership with Google which means its prepaid business paysafecard is now accepted as a payment method in the Google Play app store. The card enables consumers who prefer or need to use cash to pay online by using the 16-digit PIN to complete the transaction.
House of Fraser has confirmed that it has filed proposals for Company Voluntary Arrangements, with directors identifying 31 stores for closure, including its London Oxford Street flagship store. House of Fraser believes that the proposals are central to the survival of the company, with the current property portfolio “unsustainable in its current form”. The store closures will reduce the total store estate to 28, while the Baker Street head office and Granite House office in Glasgow will also be relocated.
Most businesses are at risk of trapping their customers in a cycle of repeated recommendations, according to a new report. Research from analytics firm SAS found 93 per cent of businesses surveyed were unable to use analytics to accurately predict what individual customers will want in future. However, 54 per cent mistakenly believed they are ‘best-in-class’ when it comes to using customer intelligence to shape their campaigns.
Shopping centre chain Westfield has unveiled its ‘Destination 2028’ concept, which depicts a ‘hyper-connected micro-city’ driven by social interaction and community. Developed by a team of experts, including a futurologist, fashion technology innovator, retail specialist and experimental physiologists, the concept shows how shopping destinations may look in ten years’ time. The new space features a hanging sensory garden, artificial intelligence-infused walkways and eye scanners
Department store chain House of Fraser looks sets to shut 29 of its 59 UK stores, as it prepares to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). According to a report from the Daily Mail, the department store’s Chinese owner C Banner will announce the decision in the coming days, outlining the restructuring process for the department store chain. High Street locations are expected to bear the brunt of the closures, with the London flagship store on Oxford Street said to be at risk.
The Treasury Committee’s chair has written to Visa’s European chief executive to find out what went wrong on Friday 1 June, how Visa will ensure that a similar failure doesn’t happen again, and whether customers or merchants will be entitled to compensation. Nicky Morgan commented that given a third of all spending in the UK is processed by Visa, “it’s deeply worrying that such a vital part of the country’s payment infrastructure can fail so catastrophically”.
Fans of Liverpool FC will now be able to enjoy 4G services at Anfield through a new stadium-wide network, which has been installed to improve the matchday experience for supporters. The new 4G mobile services have been designed and deployed by infrastructure delivery specialists Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG). The service is available initially to O2 and Vodafone customers, with plans to roll the service out to other networks at a later date.
UK retail sales increased by 4.1 per cent on a total basis from May 2017, according to the latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor. This is above the three-month and 12-month averages of 1.2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively and the highest increase since 2014. Online sales of non-food products were up 11.9 per cent in May, against growth of 4.3 per cent in May 2017.
Mastercard has launched AI Express, a programme designed to help retailers address key business priorities, including anti-money laundering, fraud risk management, cyber security, credit risk prediction and operational efficiencies.“If data is the oil that powers the digital economy, artificial intelligence is the refinery,” said Ajay Bhalla, chief security solutions officer at Mastercard.
German online-only fashion retailer Zalando has confirmed plans to launch in Ireland and the Czech Republic in summer 2018, taking its total number of markets to 17. The two countries will be the first two markets that Zalando have entered since 2013. The move will expand the company’s reach and open its offering to an additional 15.4 million potential customers. Ireland and the Czech Republic are adjacent to current Zalando markets and will be served by Zalando’s existing logistics sites.
The John Lewis Partnership has completed the acquisition of Opun, which manages home improvement projects on behalf of customers. Following the acquisition, Opun will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the John Lewis Partnership and will retain the Opun brand. John Lewis hopes that acquisition will strengthen its position in the home services market while complementing its home product range.
The payments industry must consolidate omnichannel payments, card payments and direct-from-bank Open Banking payments into new ‘Open Payments’ platforms to meet the demands of connected customers and retailers. This is according to research from payments processor RS2, which examined the trends and technologies that are driving innovation in the commerce space. It found that:
The hardware failure that left millions of people across Europe unable to make card payments on Friday evening has now been resolved, according to Visa. What the global payments company described as a systems failure forced people to revert to cash, with many ATMs running out of money and shopping having to be left at checkouts.
UK health food retailer Planet Organic has rolled out new core retail enterprise technology from IT provider itim. According to Al Overton, buying director at Planet Organic, said the business needed a “platform to allow for future growth and a stable, end-to-end solution” to help manage the daily ordering and replenishment of products on shelves, to planning promotions and processing supplier invoices.
Indian point of sale (PoS) payments firm Pine Labs has secured $125 million in funding from US payments firm PayPal and Temasek, a Singaporean investment company. Pine Labs hopes that the partnership with Temasek will enable use of the firm’s network across multiple Asian geographies to scale efficiently, while partnering with PayPal will help to drive the technological capabilities of its product offering.
The BHS website is set to be taken down by Qatari parent company the Al Mana Group, less than two years after its launch. After the physical department store chain was closed in the UK, the brand was relaunched online in September 2016. A year later, BHS.com saw sales jump by more than a third in the second quarter of 2017, followed by a 43 per cent increase in the following three months – driven by a 350 per cent rise in womenswear sales.
Chinese online food delivery platform Ele.me has gained permission from the government to deliver takeaway orders via drone along 17 routes in Shanghai’s Jinshan Industrial Park. According to the South China Morning Post, the new system will enable customers within the industrial park, which covers 22.4 square miles, to receive their food within 20 minutes of confirming the order on their smartphone.
Fashion giant Levi’s has installed two transparent LED video displays at its 8,000 square foot flagship store in San Francisco, California. The retailer worked with digital partner Reflex for the installation, which has a 100,000-hour LED lifespan and an IP44 waterproof rating. The screens use spring-loaded locks for digital panel interlocking between the screens and offer easy back access for any service needs. Levi’s wanted a solution to attract consumer attention without impeding the natural light coming into the store.
This year is expected to be the worst year for retail store closures since 2008, with more than 10,000 stores leaving retail use, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). The report argued that the UK retail business model was flawed and the growth in online sales would result in the closure of 20 per cent of all UK retail stores by the end of 2018. Since 2012, the report estimated that over 60,000 stores have closed (a fall of 15.7 per cent), with the figure expected to rise to over 70,000 by the end of 2018 (-18.4 per cent).
Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall has announced a collaboration with sporting retailer InterSport to transform its flagship store in China into a state-of-the-art technology retail megastore. The 1,300 square metre store will leverage Tmall’s New Retail infrastructure that covers customer insights, supply chain management, retail technologies, smart logistics and electronic payments. Deployed technologies have been designed specifically to offer a seamless online to offline shopping experience for customers.
Car manufacturer Hyundai is working with Xevo to allow customers to find and pay for coffee, petrol and parking using their car’s information screen. Xevo’s Market platform provides data-driven user experiences for the automotive industry. Services could expand to restaurant reservations, order-ahead takeaway food, curbside pick-up and electronic vehicle charging.
Shop prices fell by 1.1 per cent in May compared to the same month last year - the 61st month of falling shop prices and the deepest deflation since January 2017. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Neilsen index also revealed that deflation in non-food prices deepened further in May, with prices 2.5 per cent lower than the same month in 2017 - the deepest deflation in non-food since August 2016.
Online retail parcel delivery order volumes in the UK were up 13.9 per cent in April, according the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index. The report noted that Easter usually providers a boost for retail sales activity, but as it fell in March this year, a dip in volume may have been expected in April due to the tough comparator with last year (when Easter was in April). However, the monthly decline on March was actually only marginal (-0.3 per cent).
The Mayor of London has partnered with iZettle to launch a contactless payments initiative for buskers in London. The Swedish FinTech firm’s new Repeat Payments feature allows street musicians across the capital to set a fixed amount on their iZettle Reader and accept continuous contactless contributions, whilst performing, as passers-by can tap to show their support.
Carphone Warehouse is set to close 92 stores, as part of the new chief executive’s programme of cost-saving measures. After just a couple of months in the top job, Alex Baldock announced plans to decrease the retailers’ store portfolio to help save money and improve gross margins.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now in force across the European Union, with industry experts predicting a wave of consumer requests and legal actions to inundate companies across various sectors. After several weeks of being bombarded by communications about the GDPR, people are now much more aware of their rights under the new regulation – with retailers reacting to this shift of power back to consumers.
Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com will be debuting a new in-car delivery service, enabling customers to have their purchases delivered to the boot of their car. The service is in partnership with electric vehicle company NIO, and is reportedly the first of its kind in China. It will use connected car technology that automatically locates customers’ cars, then enables JD’s delivery personnel to open the boot of the car using a Personal Digital Assistant to the car, deposit the consumer’s order, and lock the boot again.
A student from Brunel University London has developed a new payment device that enables buskers and street performers to accept contactless and mobile payments. Called Tiptap, the new technology is designed to allow those who rely on cash, such as London’s street performing community, to keep pace and continue to accept crucial tips as the public continues to move towards cashless payments. “For the third year in a row cash has represented less than half of the total volume of payments made in the UK,”
Shoe Zone has published its interim results for the six months to 31 March 2018, reporting a 21 per cent uplift in multi-channel sales to £4.9 million. The retailer noted the growing impact of email sales, with revenue through the stream growing by 28.6 per cent from an increase of just 6.3 per cent in emails sent. Personalisation is helping Shoe Zone to identify and focus on engaged customers, attempt to re-engage with those who have not responded over a period of time and remove those who do not.
UK shopping centre chain intu will be piloting new technologies across its UK estate from this month as part of its startup incubation programme. intu has signed up seven start-up companies, selected from 97 applicants, who will test their innovative ideas to shape the future of retail and leisure at its shopping centres and online at intu.co.uk.
US retail giant Walmart has been granted a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a blockchain system that is able to track items that stores sell to a particular customer. The proposed platform would enable a customer to register the item after it is bought for the first time, providing them with the ability to choose a price for its resale – with the system acting as a digital marketplace.
Internet sales in the UK increased by 11.7 per cent year-on-year in April, with all sectors reporting growth on April 2017. This is according to the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics, which found that department stores and textile, clothing and footwear stores recorded particularly strong growth of 25.2 per cent and 24.4 per cent respectively. When compared with March 2018, sales dropped by 0.4 per cent in April. Despite this, online sales as a proportion of all retailing remained strong at 17.3 per cent.
There is growing speculation that Lidl is establishing its own online delivery service in the UK, with the retailer founding a holding company called Lidl Digital Logistics. The holding company was established with Companies House on 25 April, with initial shareholdings of £50,000. Lidl’s chief financial officer Dirk Kahl and chief executive Christian Hartnagel were registered as directors for the new business.
UK supermarket giant Tesco will be discontinuing its Tesco Direct non-food online commerce service, after the firm determined that “there is no route to profitability for this small, loss-making part of the business”. The business will close from 9 July, with a range of items that were previously available on Tesco Direct being made available to the retailer’s main tesco.com site. Tesco will also explore opportunities to rebuild the offer on a single online platform, creating a simpler experience for customers.
Starbucks is set to remain the most popular proximity mobile payments app in the US, ahead of Apple Pay and other competitors, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast. This year, 23.4 million people ages 14 and over will use the Starbucks app to make a point of sale purchase at least once every six months. That puts it slightly ahead of the 22.0 million people who will use Apple Pay. Google Pay (11.1 million users) and Samsung Pay (9.9 million) will round out the top four payment apps. The report predicts that the ranking will remain unchanged through 2022.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace UK has called on the major UK grocery retailers to act faster on their usage and policy on plastic. The organisations are conducting a survey of the major retailers regarding their use of single-use plastic packaging and their targets to reduce it. The results are expected to reveal the volume of single-use plastic packaging each retailer puts into the market each year, their targets to reduce plastic packaging and their approach to tackling plastic pollution in the supply chain.
Global retailers spent $104 billion on manually changing price labels in 2017, while a lack of digital technology in-store is costing retailers in lost sales and consumer trust. This is according to a new report from Displaydata and Planet Retail RNG, which surveyed 5,000 consumers and 1,000 retailers. It found that retailers are failing to keep up with shifting consumer attitudes towards price and promotion and are unable to engage with shoppers digitally, in real-time, when they are on the shop floor.
Adobe has announced that it will be acquiring Magento Commerce for $1.68 billion, subject to customary purchase price adjustments. Magento’s platform brings together digital commerce, order management and predictive intelligence, enabling shopping experiences across a range of industries. The platform is built on scalable technology supported by a community of more than 300,000 developers.
Marks and Spencer has announced that a further 14 stores will close as part of its radical transformation plan, taking the total to more than 100 store closures by 2022. Coupled with the new store closures, the retailer has also announced that 15 fewer Simply Food stores will open this year than originally planned, as the Food opening programme is scaled back. The changes form part of M&S’s commitment to take at least a third of its sales online.
China’s JD.com is launching its augmented reality (AR)-enabled Beauty Mirror, which enables customers to virtually try on products such as lipstick and blush with real makeup effects, in Walmart and Chinese cosmetics brand Carslan’s brick and mortar stores. The online retailer has been developing its AR and 3D technologies, creating new interactive experiences to help shoppers find and select products, and create new digital touchpoints for brands with its consumers.
Online fashion brand MatchesFashion.com has experienced another strong year of growth in 2017, with revenues up 44 per cent to £292 million. MatchesFashion.com attributes the growth to new technology, which has helped the retailer to scale internationally, enhance the customer experience and provide unique and personalised data to users. The success of the mobile app last year led to more than half of online business being conducted via mobile, while 2017 also saw the launch of two local-language websites in French and Korean.
Online marketplace eBay has announced the launch of Interests – a new feature that tailors customers’ experiences based on their preferences. Through data and algorithms, eBay has created hundreds of different shopping themes – from streetwear to sports teams, home theatre to Hello Kitty. Shoppers select their preferences and the new feature will tailor the homepage to the themes and items chosen for them.
Fashion retailer Zara has unveiled its latest store concept at Westfield Stratford, using state-of-the-art technologies designed to transform the customer experience. The 4,500 square metre store represents a milestone in the company’s strategy of integration its in-store and online platforms. The store will feature a dedicated area for the purchase and collection of online orders, which has two automated online order collection points that are able to handle 2,400 orders simultaneously.
UK online retail sales defied the difficult month for High Street sales and footfall by increasing 18.8 per cent year-on-year in April, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. This was the highest year-on-year increase since November 2016 and came in despite Easter falling in March this year.
Bricks and mortar stores that fail to adapt to consumers’ demand for digital experiences will be left behind, according to research from PCMS. The commerce solution provider polled 2,000 UK consumers, finding that shopping via digital devices has migrated from online into the physical store. Nearly 60 per cent said they use their own smartphone, tablet or the store’s device while shopping – rising to as many as 80 per cent of under 45s. As well as using mobile or tablets instore, a further 15 per cent chose to use digital signage, digital kiosks or interactive screens.
Burberry’s annual profit rose 2 per cent, while revenue dipped by 1 per cent, amid a year of transition towards a more digital strategy. Adjusted operating profit benefited from “positive” retail performance, with the cumulative total now standing at £64 million. Pre-tax profit came in at £412 million for the year, up from £394 million last year.
Car rental company Sixt has restructured its customer payment processes, switching to Computop as its central service provider for customer payments. Payments from online shops, PoS terminals in branches and telephone bookings will in now be run via a single platform.
Mothercare will close 50 of its underperforming stores and bring back recently-fired chief executive Mark Newton-Jones as part of a restructuring plan. The mother and baby retailer confirmed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with store closures which will cause around 800 job losses. In the UK, it employs about 3000 people across 137 stores.
With less than 10 days to go until General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement, only 40 per cent of companies expect to achieve compliance after the 25 May deadline. The figures come from a Ponemon survey of 1003 individuals - 582 in the United States and 421 in the European Union - across a variety of companies and departments, including information technology, IT security, compliance, legal, data protection and privacy.
Taveta Investments, the holding company behind Arcadia Group, saw operating profits fall 42 per cent from £215.2 million to £124.1 million for the year to August 26, 2017. Sir Philip Green’s fashion retail empire - which includes Topshop, Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Miss Selfridge and Outfit - did still see pre-tax profits up 45 per cent to £53.5 million, thanks to lower exceptional costs.
More than seven in ten retailers (72 per cent) have not introduced any new payment technology to their websites over the last two years, despite consumer demand for a quick and convenient check-out process. Research from Barclaycard revealed that while 86 per cent of retailers said they are looking to increase online transactions over the next 12 months, many are not providing the best possible e-commerce experience.
Wickes will cut a third of the jobs at its head office in Watford in the face of mixed trading conditions. This translates to approximately 100 out of 7,000 roles across the business. A statement explained that it is “committed to fully supporting all those affected”, but that in order to drive growth, the support centre has been reshaped to be leaner and more agile, with a “focus on key areas of growth in our multi-channel/digital businesses”.
McDonald’s, along with its franchisees in the UK and Ireland, has selected Ingenico Group to handle the growth in demand for cashless transactions for the next five years. The fast food giant cited capacity, reliability, performance and security as the drivers for its ‘Next Generation Cashless Solution’.
Amazon is launching its first Amazon Go stores in Chicago and San Francisco, building on the debut of its checkout-free grocery store in Seattle at the start of this year. No official opening dates have yet been given, but the e-commerce giant responded to job listings posted in the cities by admitting these were where the expansion would take place.
Inflation-adjusted spending on Visa credit and debit cards in April was two per cent lower than last year – the same decline as in March and one of the steepest falls of the past five years. The payment card company’s first quarter figures showed that the drop in spending gathered pace during the three months to April, down by 1.6 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis compared with the previous three months. In March, spending fell by 1.3 per cent on a similar basis.
Footfall in the UK decreased by 3.3 per cent in April, representing a significant decline from the positive 1.6 per cent growth seen in April 2017. This is according to the latest BRC-Springboard footfall figures, which found that that was no growth in any UK region, now two months of consecutive decline. In Northern Ireland, footfall fell sharply by 7.3 per cent.
Co-op will become the first UK retailer to launch a deposit and return scheme (DRS) trial at UK summer festivals, as part of its commitment to increase recycling and reduce pollution. The landmark pilot initiative will see the DRS unveiled at a pop-up Co-op store at Download, Latitude and Reading and Leeds festivals. The move has been facilitated through a partnership with Festival Republic.
British menswear retailer Hackett has partnered with StoreForce to implement a shop floor workforce effectiveness strategy. The company faced challenges on two fronts – competition from online multi-brand retailers and increasing payroll, rent and business rate costs. Senior management also discovered disparities in the way sales teams were being deployed across its 77 stores in 16 countries.
Spending on European commercial cards has experienced strong growth in the last year, driven by an increasing use of virtual cards for travel-related and business-to-business (B2B) payments. This is according to RBR’s Commercial Cards in Europe 2018 study, which revealed that there were 58 million commercial cards in Europe in 2016 – up six per cent on the previous year. In total, commercial cards represent just four per cent of all cards, highlighting the opportunity for expansion.
Almost two-thirds of consumers (62 per cent) say confidence about sharing data with businesses is improved by the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which governs the collection, storage and use of personal data. The figure comes from a report commissioned jointly by one-to-one marketing industry body DMA and data marketing firm Acxiom, which surveyed a representative sample of over 1,000 UK adults.
Holland & Barrett has appointed data science company Starcount as part of its three-year transformation plans. The partnership will help the health and wellbeing retailer to better understand customers as part of a drive to continuously improve its value proposition. Starcount will be generating data led insights, enhancing offer and content personalisation through the Rewards for Life membership programme.
A year after the WannaCry ransomware attack crippled the NHS and infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, research has found 38 per cent of IT workers in retail firms admit their organisation is now more exposed to cyber-threats than it was in 2017. A Tanium survey of 500 frontline IT security workers in the UK showed that less than half (44 per cent) of retail organisations have invested in new security systems since WannaCry, with 46 per cent of respondents in the retail sector believe their senior leadership team has failed to realise how exposed their companies are to cyber threats.
Nordic bank Nordea has launched a new payment solution called Nordea Connect to improve the online buying experience for both consumers and merchants. Nordea Connect has been designed to provide a simple user-friendly way to complete and host payments. Consumers are able to choose the payment method they desire: Swish, Siirto, ePayments (Finland), while all major bankcards are also accepted.
Church’s Shoes has invested in an omnichannel solution from Dedagroup Stealth to replace its legacy systems. The British shoe retailer - which now has stores in Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong - recognised the need to integrate its systems to give a unified view of its customers, combined with a single view of stock, whether in the central warehouse, in-store or across its e-commerce platforms.
Payments and loyalty marketing platform Yoyo has hired Mastercard finance director James Taylor as its new vice president of finance. Taylor previously headed up the finance team for Vocalink-owned Zapp, the scheme operator of digital payment app Pay by Bank. When Vocalink was acquired by Mastercard in 2017, he became a finance director. Before Vocalink, Taylor spent four years at Barclays.
UK consumers are willing to spend more online with retailers who demonstrate strong cybersecurity and data privacy capabilities, according to a new report. Accenture’s study surveyed more than 6,000 consumers and 200 retail executives, finding that 77 per cent of consumers ranked cyber security as the third most important factor when selecting retailers, behind only product availability and quality.
JD.com has reported net revenues for the first quarter $16 billion, up by almost a third compared to the first quarter last year. The Chinese e-commerce company and retail infrastructure provider’s net service revenues were $1.4 billion, an increase of 60 per cent from the first quarter of 2017.
In April, UK retail sales decreased by 4.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis when compared with April 2017, when sales were up 5.6 per cent from the preceding year. This is according to the latest BRC-KMPG retail sales index, which found that sales declined 3.1 per cent in April on a total basis, against an increase of 6.3 per cent in April 2017, both distorted by the timing of Easter. This is below the three month and 12 month averages of 0.4 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively and the sharpest decline recorded by the monitor its inception in January 1995.
Bricks and mortar retailers of cosmetics and household goods are among the consumer segments most at risk of losing business to e-commerce rivals in Europe, according to new analysis from Scope Ratings. In both cases, consumer preference to buy online - a ‘maturity threshold’ - was compared with the extent to which they are already doing so, measured by e-commerce penetration rates.
Builders’ merchant Wolseley UK has worked with e-commerce firm Salmon to bring together the brands that represent its plumb, parts, pipe, drain and climate businesses online. Developed on the IBM WebSphere Commerce platform, the new site launched in November last year and supports a new operating model, customer value proposition and self-service capabilities. The website offers personalised experiences for customers, using integrated technology powered by Monetate.
Deutsche Bank is partnering with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to launch an electronic real-time payment system for plane tickets. The system will charge a fixed fee, with money taken direct from customer bank accounts, rather than via a credit or debit card. This is made possible by the EU’s payment regulation PSD2 which forces banks to give third parties access to customer data and initiate payments.
The John Lewis Partnership has denied reports that it was approached by Amazon last year to acquire supermarket chain Waitrose. The news originated from an article in the Sunday Times, suggesting that Amazon’s vice president of special projects, Ajay Kavan, approached John Lewis about a potential takeover bid in an “enormously informal” environment but was rebuffed by the board. However, Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership denied there had been any approach.
Online retailer Express Gifts has renewed its partnership with Qubit with a view to provide data-driven customer experiences online. The Qubit Pro platform will build more complex personalisations for customers, with both companies believing that product discovery is key to unlocking the mobile channel in terms of engagement and conversions. Craig Elwell, head of e-commerce at Express Gifts, noted how digital is the key to significant growth in the retail industry.
Non-EU overseas mobile searches for UK brands grew by 13 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Google. Italy recorded the strongest year-on-year growth in searches for UK brands from within the EU, reporting 31 per cent growth over the first quarter. In the UK, the North and Yorkshire saw the highest portion of Google searches in the first quarter, representing 26 per cent of total searches – higher than London’s 23 per cent.
Self-service checkouts, contactless payment and self-stock checking tools are the most desirable in-store tech for the ‘Generation Z’ demographic of 18-24 year olds. New research from YouGov, commissioned by Cybertill, found they focused less on being entertained or browsing online first, than their older, Millennial counterparts - those aged 25 to 34 - and preferred quick, seamless experiences in real-time.
Get shoppers off their rails and try to match a shoplifter’s retail experience - two nuggets of wisdom shared at yesterday’s Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE). The latter came from Co-operative’s retail IT solutions specialist Paul Fletcher, who came up with the analogy while working on the supermarket chain’s new Pay in Aisle app.
When thinking about investment in new technologies, retailers must think like Oprah Winfrey and remember that the relationship with customers must come first, according to one trend expert. Speaking at the Retail Business Technology Expo yesterday, Insider Trends’ head of trends Cate Trotter told the audience that the Oprah has built her brand on developing a relationship with viewers, and in turn, customers.
WHSmith has rolled out an integrated payment solution with 3C Payment, initially in airport sites across Spain, Germany and Italy. As part of an international travel site expansion, WHSmith partnered with 3C to provide payment hardware across Europe. The companies were already integrated with preferred point of sale software from Aptos.
UK retailers saw digital revenue grow 10 per cent during the first quarter, with this growth in traffic and orders coming from mobile devices, while computer and tablet use declined year-over year. The Salesforce Shopping Index also revealed that mobile devices drove a quarter of the UK’s order growth and 17 per cent of UK traffic growth.
The new Open Banking regime will help break the monopoly around customer account information, according to Alipay’s business development director for EMEA. Speaking in a panel discussion at the Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) today, Tao Tao told the audience that he was optimistic about the developments in UK banking, with his part of the Alibaba ecosystem ready to offer mobile alternatives to existing institutions.
Ocado has entered into a cooperation agreement with Swedish retailer ICA Gruppe, providing the firm with use of its e-commerce platform and technology for automated e-commerce warehouses. Over the next four years, the retailer will be investing SEK 600 million (£49.6 million) in a fully-automated e-commerce solution in Stockholm, with use of Ocado’s technology and platform designed specifically for grocery products.
Mastercard has developed a solution for consumers to register their fingerprint onto a biometric card from their home, saving them from a trip to a bank branch. The payments giant wants to eliminate the use of passwords, driving use of biometrics such as fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scans. Mastercard’s new technology, a battery-powered sleeve, will let people self-enrol their contact or contactless biometric card. Their fingerprint is scanned by the sensor on the card and an encrypted digital template is created and securely stored.
Facebook has introduced the ability for brands to incorporate augmented reality (AR) into their Messenger experiences. Through the new feature, businesses can leverage the Facebook camera effects platform to integrate AR, enabling customers to experience filters and AR effects that are specific to the company’s brand. Facebook states that the new solution enables customers to visualise a product before making a purchase,
Online food delivery service Just Eat has published its trading update for the three months to 31 March 2018, revealing a 49 per cent increase in revenues to £177.4 million. The company attributes the strong performance to substantial order growth and a greater proportion of higher value delivery orders. UK orders increased by 24 per cent to 29.7 million, benefitting from 1.4 million orders from Hungryhouse – following the completion of the firm’s acquisition in 31 January.
On-street donations are declining according to 74 per cent of charities, with 44 per cent of voluntary organisations now exploring new technologies and alternative donation options to avoid missing out. A Barclays Corporate Banking survey of over 2,000 UK consumers and 301 large charities found that seven in 10 charities reported an increase in online donations over the past three years, and an even bigger proportion expect it to rise further over the next three years.
Online retail delivery order volumes were up 9.6 per cent year-on-year in March, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index. Total growth for the first quarter finished up 12.5 per cent - versus a forecast of 13 per cent for 2018 as a whole - while over the same period, online retail sales revenue growth was up 15.4 per cent.
Starship Technologies will start a major commercial roll-out of its autonomous delivery robots for corporate and academic campuses in the US and Europe. “We’ve already partnered with Compass Group on the Intuit Mountain View campus in the US to provide accessible, convenient and sustainable robotic delivery,” said Starship Technologies chief executive Ahti Heinla, “and after a successful start to the year and great reception to our robots, we are planning to dramatically expand our services and distribute thousands of robots across campuses around the world by 2019.”
Given more powers over how their personal data is collected and used, nearly half (47 per cent) of UK adults would like some aspects of their digital history to be deleted forever, according to new research from Accenture. The management consultancy surveyed 2,000 UK adults in March, in order to understand how people feel about the personal information that is collected about them online, and what aspects of their data they would most like to be forgotten under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to be implemented on 25 May.
Healthy food outlet pod has launched a three month trial of digital loyalty cards and paperless receipts across its London stores. pod is discontinuing its paper loyalty cards and introducing a ‘Buy-5-get-1-free’ loyalty offer on scrambled eggs to Flux customers. For each portion of scrambled eggs purchased with their normal bank card, Flux customers collect a digital stamp within their mobile banking app. Flux will recognise when the customer’s loyalty card is full, and when the customer purchases again, Flux will deliver them a loyalty cashback reward on behalf of pod.
Sainsbury's and Asda are set to become a combined business, after the latter’s parent company Walmart agreed a deal. The combination will result in Walmart holding 42 per cent of the issued share capital and receiving £2.97 billion of cash, valuing Asda at approximately £7.3 billion on a debt-free, cash-free and pension-free basis. At the time of completion, Walmart will not hold more than 29.9 per cent of the total voting rights in the combined business.
Amazon has published its financial results for the first quarter ending 31 March, revealing a net sales increase of 43 per cent to reach $51 billion – compared with $35.7 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Operating cash flow increased four per cent to $18.2 billion year-on-year, compared with $17.5 billion published the previous year, while free cash flow decreased to $7.3 billion. The e-commerce giant also introduced delivery from Whole Foods Market across 10 cities in the US, offering customers free two-hour delivery on online groceries.
Independent children’s clothing retailer Trotters has chosen Eurostop’s electronic point of sale (EPoS) solution for its stores, head office and website. The new system will manage stock across all channels, enabling the retailer to provide a unified customer experience across in-store and online. Eurostop’s EPoS estate manager, connected to e-rmis, will also enable Trotters to manage stock across all of its stores and warehouse, as well as fulfil all online orders seamlessly.
Fenwick is consulting with staff over a proposed structural reorganisation, with fears that jobs could be at risk. The department store chain is planning to launch a website enabling online shopping for the first time, as well as centralising back office operations.
Online grocery sales in Britain increased by 4.6 per cent in 2017 to £6.6 billion, a third faster than in-store sales which grew at 3.4 per cent, however online’s share only increased from 6.3 to 6.4 per cent across the year. Nielsen’s continuous 15,000-strong ‘geo-demographically balanced’ panel measures household purchasing through a range of channels, finding that online shopping is dominated by the big shop and weekly trips, which account for twice the share of online trips (82 per cent) than they do for in-store trips (44 per cent).
US convenience store chain 7-Eleven has partnered with JDA Software to implement a number of supply chain solutions to manage its inventory and streamline operations. The new system provides the retailer with deeper visibility into its inventory to reduce levels of out-of-stock items and decrease expiring products, while maintaining service levels. JDA will fill each store’s orders efficiently, while planning for each store’s specific demands with regards to stock quantities across multiple distribution centres.
Argos is searching for 150 permanent technology and digital specialists who can support its growing digital business and make shopping more convenient for customers. The new tech roles range from graduate right up to principal level and include software development engineers, software engineering managers, machine learning engineers, big data engineers and product managers. Recruits will get the opportunity to work with a range of emerging technologies, including Java 8, Kotlin, Hadoop, Spark, Python, Kafka and React.
New research on customer experience has revealed that 60 per cent of shoppers have walked out of a store in the last year due to poor customer service, with 40 per cent stating they would appreciate staff providing a more personalisation. The survey of 2,000 UK consumers aged between 18 and 75 by Sapio Research and Quail Digital highlighted several areas where retailers to improve the Click and Collect and in-store experience.
The UK government is collaborating with more than 50 businesses and organisations to develop a £1 billion deal to put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence (AI) industry. Announced by business secretary Greg Clark and digital secretary Matt Hancock, the new deal features almost £300 million of new private sector investment and more than £300 of newly allocated government funding for research into the technology.
Barclays has signed a strategic partnership with PayPal which will make it easier for customers to manage their accounts together. The partnership is initially focused on consumers and small businesses in the UK and the US. Customers will be able to add Barclays credit and debit cards to their PayPal wallet, to update these cards automatically in PayPal when they reach their expiry date, and to display their Barclays card image in the PayPal wallet to allow consumers to easily select their preferred way to pay.
The John Lewis Partnership has announced an expansion of its retail technology innovation programme, JLAB, running throughout the year rather than as a one-off 12-week event. Now in its fifth year, there will now be three chances in 2018 for both established businesses and new startups to participate.
Shoppers are more likely to return to retailers that offer digital innovation, with self-service and mobile technology being key to enhancing the shopping experience. This is according to a survey from SOTI, which questioned more than 1,000 UK consumers, finding that 69 per cent agreed technologies such as kiosks, digital signage and self-checkouts improve their shopping experience. Six in 10 respondents said that technology helps them find that they need, while two thirds agreed that technology makes it faster for them to check out.
With only a month to go until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, a survey has found that 57 per cent of retailers are not ready. Research among 101 senior retail decision-makers commissioned by point of sale marketing specialist Ecrebo found that 41 per cent are ready for the compliance deadline, but with personalisation playing such a key role in retail - 89 per cent of retailers said they use data to personalise the customer experience - the pressure is on to comply.
Pure-play retailer Boohoo has reported a 97 per cent rise in group revenues to £579 million over the year to 29 February, backed by strong growth across all of its websites and geographies. Revenues in the UK nearly doubled during the period, rising 95 per cent, with international up 99 per cent.
American Apparel has reopened in the UK, but as an online-only retailier. In 2016, the company - an offshoot of the original North American business operated by UK subsidiaries - was forced to close its 13 UK stores after falling into administration.
Digital payments specialist Nets has started testing finger vein payments with students and visitors at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). The FinTech firm said that scanning the structure of veins in customers’ fingers makes for faster and safer payments.
Debenhams has partnered with Western Union Company to offer a global money transfer service from its stores with travel money bureaux. Customers will have the choice to complete the whole transaction in-store at Debenhams Travel Money bureaux, or to use the Western Union Mobile app and pay at Debenhams locations.
US FinTech Affirm has expanded its range to offer interest-free, three-month payment terms to help shoppers a new way to make smaller purchases. The company suggested the expansion will be especially valuable to fashion brands and retailers that want to offer a quick and convenient payment method and are more transparent than traditional credit.
Online fashion retailer Farfetch has launched a scheme to provide startups with a programme of mentorship, networking opportunities and access to early-stage funding. Based in Farfetch’s Lisbon offices and lasting 12 weeks, the programme will include a series of workshops, one-to-one sessions with senior staff and mentorship meetings covering topics such as e-commerce, marketing, technology, fashion, logistics and operations.
Cash remains the most widely used form of payment in all regions of the world, while the amount of cash in circulation is growing, according to a report from G4S. The World Cash report surveyed 47 countries covering three quarters of the global population and over 90 per cent of the world’s GDP, with results revealing a growing global demand for cash – despite the increase in electronic payment options in recent years. Cash in circulation relative to GDP has increased to 9.6 per cent across all continents, up from 8.1 per cent in 2011.
UK supermarket chain Iceland has become the latest UK retailer to sign a partnership with China’s largest retailer, JD.com, to debut its products in the Chinese market. The Iceland flagship store on JD.com’s cross-border e-commerce platform, JD Worldwide, will make Iceland’s own-brand products and a curated selection of other branded products available to consumers across China for the first time.
As the High Street reported its steepest year-on-year drop in footfall since 2010, UK online retail sales grew by 18.9 per cent year-on-year in March. This is according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, which showed the highest year-on-year growth since November 2016. The study attributes the rise to a number of key factors, starting with the ‘Beast from the East’ weather and ending with the early Easter bank holiday weekend.
Swedish FinTech firm iZettle has launched a new e-commerce platform that will allow merchants to sell in-store, online and on-the-go, all from one place. The platform lets small business owners set up and customise a brand new webshop, or start selling across multiple channels online, including social media, blogs and existing websites – keeping track of all sales and inventory in one place.
Mastercard has called on merchants, acquirers, issuers and other technology players to support the new EMVCo Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) framework, which aims to create a ubiquitous online payments experience for global shoppers. Mastercard believes that SRC can be implemented as one, common checkout button – delivering a more consistent checkout experience by reducing the multiple steps that consumers face at different sites.
In the three months to March 2018 retail sales fell by 0.5 per cent when compared to the previous quarter, with declines in all sectors except for department stores and non-store retailing. The latest Office for National Statistics figures also showed month-on-month growth down by 1.2 per cent, due to a large fall of 7.4 per cent from petrol sales – likely due to adverse weather conditions impacting travel.
Debenhams has reported that its pre-tax profits are down 84 per cent from £87.8 million to £13.5 million during the half year to 3 March. Like-for-like sales declined 2.2 per cent, amid a “challenging UK market background” when during the final trading week extreme weather conditions temporarily closed almost 100 stores.
Japanese payments firm JCB will conduct a trial of its new biometric card which features fingerprint authentication. Enabled by IDEMIA, the new payment solution requires users to first register one or more fingerprints for authentication purposes. When they want to buy something, they need only touch the fingerprint sensor on the card's lower right corner with their finger so as to authenticate payment.
Natalie Massenet, founder of online fashion outlet Net-a-Porter, has collaborated with Nick Brown, a former partner at venture capital firm 14W to launch a $75 million venture capital fund, focused on innovation in retail technology. The new platform, Imaginary Ventures, will look to invest in early-stage opportunities “at the intersection of retail and technology in Europe and the US”. The fund has already invested in companies for its launch, including online luxury boutique Farfetch, retail pop-up rental outfit Appear Here
Three quarters of UK consumers have shopped online from retailers based overseas, according to new research from HotUKDeals, while 25 per cent prefer to stick with UK-based retailers. The survey of more than 6,000 European consumers, commissioned by Pepper.com, found that those on the continent are more likely to shop with foreign retailers, with 77 per cent of German consumers stating that they have shopped online with retailers based abroad, 78 per cent of Spanish consumers and 86 per cent of Italian consumers.
Marks & Spencer has announced that its Hardwick distribution centre will close, while DHL has been awarded the contract to run the new M&S south east distribution centre at Welham Green, Hertfordshire. The move forms part of the retailer’s five-year transformation programme, which includes plans to create a single-tier clothing and home logistics network. The new network will enable M&S to move products from suppliers to stores faster and at lower cost by moving to a smaller network of large distribution centres across the UK.
The 6th annual Payments Awards have launched today, with entries open to companies demonstrating excellence and innovation in the payments space. Organised by FStech and Retail Systems - in association with Bandwidth, Card & Payments Jobs and PIF - the awards ceremony will return to the London Marriott in Grosvenor Square on 14 November.
More than two thirds of UK consumers now go on to purchase products that they have discovered on retailers’ social media channels, new research has revealed. Curalate’s study of 1,000 consumers aged between 18 and 65 found that 46 per cent of people spend time thinking about the product before buying it later online, while 17 per cent said they would buy it in-store. Four per cent said that they would purchase the item immediately online.
JD Sports has reported a record profit before tax, up by 24 per cent to £294.5 million from £238.4 million last year. Preliminary results for the 53 weeks ended 3 February 2018 revealed website sales up in excess of 30 per cent, outstripping in-store sales growth of three per cent.
Click and Collect firm Doddle has launched a Facebook chatbot to make the returns process easier for customers. The chatbot uses artificial intelligence to ask customers for one or more pieces of data related to their return, reducing the time a customer needs to spend in-store handing over the parcels to a member of staff. Upon opening the conversation with Doddle on Facebook Messenger, customers are asked to enter responses to the chatbot’s questions such as:
UK retailers are losing out on more than £18 billion in potential sales each year, as British consumers have made a habit of abandoning their online basket before purchase. This is according to new research from Barclaycard, which revealed that UK shoppers each abandon an online basket worth an average of £29.37 every month. The study found shoppers are more likely to pull out when buying online, with 41 per cent having abandoned a transaction at a virtual check-out in the last year, compared to 24 per cent who have walked away from a purchase in-store.
PayPal has extended its partnership with point of sale (PoS) solution provider ebizmarts to develop an omnichannel payment system to help retailers deliver the best of both worlds when it comes to shopping in-store. By combining PayPal’s mobile card solution, PayPal Here, with ebizmarts’ iPad-based app, Magento, retailers can synchronise their online catalogues and in-store product suites.
High Street retailers are headed for an “extremely unpleasant existential crisis”, according to the manager of a fund that takes advantage of industry disruption.
Eurof Uppington, portfolio manager of disruptive innovation strategy at Quaero Capital, explained that while the internet as a disruptor of bricks and mortar shops is nothing new, the extent of the problem traditional retailers face is being widely underestimated.
Eight in 10 UK Millennials trust that the personal information they provide online is kept private, according to new research from Satsuma. The study of 1,000 people aged between 18 and 24 found that banks are the most trusted institution, with 85 per cent of Millennials having faith that their bank keeps their information private and safe.
The House of Lords has called on the UK industry to lead the way in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, providing the economy with a major boost for years to come. The House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence published its AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able? report today, with chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement-Jones, noting that the UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit. “The UK contains leading AI companies, a dynamic academic research culture, and a vigorous start-up ecosystem as well as a host of legal, ethical, financial and linguistic strengths.”
Footfall in March decreased by six per cent, compared to a 1.3 per cent increase during the same month last year, and the steepest year-on-year fall since the end of 2010. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures also showed no growth in footfall for any UK regions, with the most notable year-on-year declines seen in Greater London, down 7.5 per cent, followed by a 6.5 per cent drop in the South East, and 5.6 per cent in the East Midlands.
The Gro Company has seen mobile revenue jump by 30 per cent following a relaunch of its website in December last year. The revenue increase accounts for the first two months of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017. Average order values have also grown by 13 per cent. E-commerce agency Gene worked with the retailer to implement the new platform, providing shoppers with a more tailored retail experience
Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) firm SenseTime has raised $600 million in a Series C funding round, led by Alibaba group, with participation from Temasek and Suning. The injection of funding will be used to expand the SenseTime’s AI platform, advancing the company’s technological innovation and opening up new business opportunities. Boasting over 8,000 graphics processing units, the deep-learning platform is able to support building models with billions of parameters
US retail giant Wal-Mart has signed an agreement with Postmates to help expand its online grocery delivery programme to more than 40 per cent of US households. Customers can either place their orders online or via the Wal-Mart grocery app, then select a delivery window at checkout for a price of $9.95. A Postmates employee will retrieve the order from a Wal-Mart store and deliver it to the customer’s home.
Shop Direct has announced proposals to replace its three Greater Manchester fulfilment centres with a new fully-automated, 500,000 square foot distribution and returns centre in the East Midlands. As part of an 18 month project, Shop Direct reviewed its fulfilment sites at Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven, concluding that limited accessibility, layout and loading restrictions, coupled with a lack of space, meant that these centres “do not meet the group’s future operational ambitions”.
Investment across technology and transformation programmes has driven a 27 per cent sales growth for online-only fashion store ASOS. A total of 29.9 million orders were placed over the six months to 28 February 2018 – up 28 per cent year-on-year, with first half site visits exceeding one billion for the first time. Site visits increased by 25 per cent year-on-year, while average order frequency improved by eight per cent. Average basket value also increased by two per cent alongside a 10bps improvement in conversion, while active customers are now at 16.5 million – representing a 17 per cent increase since last year.
Nike has completed the acquisition of Israel-based computer vision firm Invertex, as it looks to strengthen its digital technology platform and upgrade its e-commerce offering. In a statement, the global sports brand said that it will be working directly with Invertex “on building ground-breaking innovations to help serve millions of members around the globe”. The tech startup uses artificial intelligence and 3D imaging technology to analyse users’ feet in-store, suggesting models and sizes that would be the best fit.
Mastercard has announced it will expand its presence in Ireland, hiring 175 new employees in Dublin focused on driving innovation in payments. Roles include software engineers, blockchain specialists, data scientists, project managers, analysts, product designers, cloud infrastructure specialists and information security experts.
Mothercare has reported UK like-for-like sales decline of 2.8 per cent, impacted by reduced store consumer footfall during the 12-week period to 24 March 2018. A trading update pointed out that online sales during the period represented 49 per cent of UK sales, bringing full year to 43 per cent. Online sales growth was 2.1 per cent, with website sales growth of 7.2 per cent.
Customer engagement platform Como has started a strategic partnership with Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) company pointOne, to provide data-driven tools for retailers and restaurants. The partnership will enable bricks and mortar businesses to adapt technologies usually used by online giants to better know their customers and offer them personalised experiences.
Tesco’s latest results have revealed pre-tax profits of £1.3 billion for the year to 24 February, up from £145 million for the previous year, as UK like-for-like sales rose 2.2 per cent. This came on the back of innovations like the introduction of a contactless Clubcard, which was rolled out to 18 million Clubcard members during the period.
Multi-channel retailer Express Gifts has signed an agreement with Adare SEC to implement personalised communications to its customers. Express Gifts is currently undergoing a digital transformation – a key part of which includes an ongoing strategic focus to increase customer personalisation and improve customer experience across all brand touch points.
Entertainment retailer HMV has overhauled its in-store network with support from Cisco and Cisilion, deploying a new solution across its 130 UK stores. Since implementing the new platform, the retailer has seen cost savings of more than £200,000 with improved network connectivity, resulting in increased productivity of staff. “Thanks to the excellent work by Cisco and Cisilion, we now have a private, fully managed network
Francisco Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm, has entered into a definitive agreement for the purchase of payments firm Verifone for a total consideration of approximately $3.4 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Verifone stockholders will receive $23.04 in cash for each share of Verifone common stock held, representing a premium of approximately 54 per cent to the Company’s closing share price of $15.00 on April 9, 2018.
Online sales of non-food sales in the UK grew 7.9 per cent year-on-year in March, against a growth of 6.6 per cent in March 2017, new BRC-KPMG figures have revealed. Total retail sales in the UK increased by 2.3 per cent in March, against a decline of 0.2 per cent in March 2017. On a like-for-like basis, sales were up 1.4 per cent from the previous year. Over the three months to March, in-store sales of non-food items declined three per cent on a total basis and four per cent on a like-for-like basis. On a 12-month basis, the total decline was 2.2 per cent.
Active Nutrition International has launched e-commerce channels in Germany and Austria using the Descartes pixi warehouse management solution (WMS) to support order fulfillment for its PowerBar and Dymatize sports nutrition brands.
Cosmetics retailer Lush has selected SD Worx to run the company’s payroll, starting with operations for 4,500 employees, including all 102 of the Lush stores across the UK, its manufacturing, support and digital teams, as well as for 300 employees in the manufacturing arm of the business in Germany. Upon successful implementation, there is the option of expanding the deployment to further global markets that are reviewing their payroll offering.
The Co-op’s latest financial results have detailed plans for the future, including a pilot to move payments away from supermarket checkouts. As part of the group’s ‘Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities’ plan, the ‘pay in the aisles’ test is being carried out in the Co-op’s support centre in Manchester, with wider roll-out is slated for this summer.
Online physical goods will account for 13 per cent of global retail sales by 2020, or $3.8 trillion out of a global retail market of nearly $30 trillion. This is according to new research from Juniper, which found that traditional bricks and mortar retailers are seeking to support their ailing offline-store activities with the development of integrated online engagement channels.
Starbucks has rolled out voice recognition ordering in South Korea by integrating with Samsung’s intelligent AI chatbot, Bixby. Customers can place their order with Bixby as if they were talking to a member of staff in-store, including modifying their beverage to meet their personal preference. Users must enrol in the My Starbucks Rewards programme before placing an order.
Amazon has expanded the trial of its Amazon Key feature – which enables delivery drivers to enter a customer’s home to deliver goods inside through keyless entry, remote lock and unlock, and guest access features. The e-commerce giant has also unveiled a new feature for Amazon Key, which enables consumers to view motion video clips of the delivery driver entering or leaving when the door is locked or unlocked.
There is a significant and growing demand from customers for better payment systems and solutions, placing increasing pressure on the retail and hospitality industries. This is according to a study from Flyt, which surveyed 100 IT decision makers across both industries. It found that 40 per cent of respondents felt increasing levels of pressure to deliver new payment solutions in the past 12 months – a number set to increase to 56 per cent by next year.
Sainsbury’s has rolled out a trial of its revamped Nectar scheme in its Isle of Wight stores, designed to reward customers for their loyalty with hyper-personalised offers. Participants in the scheme will be rewarded based on how much they spend, how frequently they shop and how long they have been shopping with the retailer. The scheme aims to provide the most loyal customers with greater value offers and deals.
Spar International has opened its first cashless supermarket at the Hogeschool Utrecht University campus in the Netherlands this week. Called ‘Skippen’, or Skipping in English, the new concept enables students who download the accompanying app to purchase goods in-store without having to queue for a cash register. Shoppers simply scan items into their shopping cart via a QR code, before completing the payment with Tikkie – ABN AMRO’s online payment solution.
Tomorrow Street, Vodafone’s innovation centre, will collaborate with Accenture to help growth-stage technology firms fast-track product development and scale their businesses. The two companies will provide support in the areas of the Internet of Things, security and artificial intelligence (AI). Participants will gain direct exposure to communications industry executives, enabling them to gain insights into the industry on a global scale.
Some 45 per cent of shoppers would spend more online if they had access to technology that helps them to better visualise how the product works, without having to go in-store. This is according to a new survey from PushON, which quizzed 1,000 consumers on their online shopping preferences. Four in 10 expressed a desire for augmented reality (AR) technology to test a product before purchasing, via an app to place virtual images of products in a real-world view.
Cyber attacks are becoming more organised and structured, according to analysis of threat intelligence and breach incidents by Trustwave. While 2017 saw improvement in areas such as intrusion to detection, there was also increased sophistication in malware obfuscation, social engineering tactics and advanced persistent threats.
Qmatic has launched Mobile Ticket – a new solution that enables shoppers to select an in-store service and join a virtual queue, without the need to stand in a physical line. Customers can open a web app or scan a QR code and select the service they require, such as the collection of online orders in store, a meeting with an expert, personal or VIP shopping, and customer services.
Greater automation in the warehouse will help online retailers meet delivery schedules during peak periods and improve customer service, new research from Conveyor Networks has suggested. A survey of more than 100 mid-tier online retailers found that 83 per cent believe that automation will drive future growth. Three quarters of respondents claimed to be handling up to 50,000 orders per day, rising to 75,000 orders per day during peak periods – putting pressure on warehouse and delivery operations.
The majority of chatbot owners and developers are not satisfied with the performance of their artificial intelligence assistants, suggesting human validation is still key. Text analytics specialists Warwick Analytics surveyed 551 professionals involved in the development or management of chatbots, finding 59 per cent of businesses who have a chatbot are unsatisfied.
Over two billion consumers worldwide will use a mobile wallet to make a payment or send money in 2019, according to Juniper Research, up by almost 30 per cent on the 1.6 billion recorded in 2017. The study found that contactless card payments remain far more prevalent than mobile payments in most markets, but leading wallets are seeking to redress the balance by enabling both online and offline payment options.
Walmart has partnered with MoneyGram International to set up a money transfer service, Walmart2World. Scheduled to launch in all of the company’s 4,700 US stores this month, it costs $4 to send up to $50, $8 to send $51 to $1,000, and $16 to send $1,001 to $2,500, regardless of where the sender and/or receiver are located.
High Street footfall dropped 9.6 per cent on Good Friday to 6.9 per cent on Easter Saturday, according to the latest Springboard data. This is compared to to a 5 per cent footfall increase in retail parks and shopping centres over Friday and Saturday. As the weather across the UK improved on Sunday, shoppers ventured outdoors, pushing up High Street footfall by 1.9 per cent.
Furniture retailer DFS has published its half year results for the six months to 27 January 2018, revealing double digit growth in online traffic and transactions. The report found that more than 80 per cent of customers now conduct research online before visiting a DFS showroom. The retailer has continually invested in its omnichannel capabilities to ensure a well-optimised and efficient online and mobile platform (mobile now accounts for 80 per cent of web traffic).
Multichannel toy retailer The Entertainer has published its full year results to 27 January 2018, revealing a 37 per cent uplift in profit – driven by a 30 per cent increase in online sales. The results revealed that the retailer’s online platform has seen sales increase five-fold over the last five years. Use of the company’s 30-minute Click and Collect service has also surged by 32 per cent this year.
A new partnership between Italian bank UBI Banca and SIA will enable shoppers at the ‘Iper La grande i’ hypermarket to pay for their items using a mobile app and QR code. The service will initially be trialled at four hypermarkets before rolling out to another 23 Iper La Grande i locations. The initiative aims to support the development of more innovative payment options in the country, as digital payment systems in Italy recorded 60 per cent growth in 2016 – totalling €6.7 billion.
French food retailer Carrefour has launched Carrefour Pay, its new mobile payment solution. The proprietary system can be used for payment, loyalty programmes and discount coupons in 3,000 Carrefour stores in France, and beyond that with all retailers which accept NFC contactless payment throughout the world.
Outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse has reported a 10 per cent uplift in online revenues since revamping its website and implementing a personalisation solution from Certona. The retailer partnered with Certona in late 2016 for support in elevating its overall personalisation strategy. Mountain Warehouse implemented solutions including advanced web recommendations, point-of-open individualised emails and personalised landing pages.
Shop Direct has extended its relationship with SAS to improve customer engagement and strengthen loyalty with personalised offers and recommendations. The digital retailer is now using SAS Contextual Analysis to deepen its real-time insight into customer buying behaviour, helping to identify where it can strengthen its relationships to keep customers returning to the brand.
Pizza Express has relaunched its app, which will now allow customers to pay for their meal at the table. The app also lets users find their nearest restaurant, book a table and stay up-to-date on customer rewards. Later this Spring, Click and Collect functionality will be introduced, with other new features planned for roll-out throughout the year, including augmented-reality features in summer.
Amazon has joined forces with French retailer Monoprix to bring the retailer’s groceries to Prime Now service customers in and around Paris this year. Prime members can download the Prime Now app to find eligible delivery postcodes, place orders and track the status of their delivery in real time, or request notification when the service is available in their area.
Dixons Carphone has announced the appointment of Jonny Mason as group finance director, who joins from Halfords where he served as chief financial officer since 2015. Prior to that, Mason was also chief finance officer at Scandinavian firm Scandi Standard AB, Odeon and UCI Cinemas, finance director of Sainsbury’s, and held finance roles at Shell and Hanson plc. Commenting on the new appointment, Ian Livingston, chairman of Dixons Carphone, said:
Qatar Airways has expanded its collaboration with Wirecard to offer Alipay as a method of payment from April 2018 in selected Qatar Duty Free stores at Doha’s Hamad International Airport. Qatar Duty Free, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qatar Airways, operates more than 90 retail stores with over 185 points of sale. The world’s largest mobile payment network, Alipay has more than 600 million active users in China,
The wearables market is beginning to shift away from wrist-based devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, with other device categories forecast for greater growth. This is according to a study from Juniper Research, which predicted that the total smart wearables market will reach almost 350 million devices shipped by 2020. Around 137 million of these devices are smartwatches and activity trackers.
FACT-Finder has claimed its new Predictive Basket technology can cut online shopping time by up to two-thirds. The company’s latest patent learns from previous customer behaviour - and also from all other customers - in order to predict which regular items they will need in their shopping basket at any given time.
Easter weekend retail footfall this year could be 2.4 per cent higher than Easter 2017, provided the ‘Beast from the East’ does not return for a second time – as some weather outlets are predicting. This is according to Springboard, which suggests that a return to freezing conditions could result in Easter weekend footfall dropping by as much as 15 per cent from last year. Diane Wehrle, Springboard insights director, explained:
French luxury fashion brand Anne Fontaine has signed an agreement with the AURES Group to completely overhaul its point of sale (PoS) IT systems. The partnership will see the implementation of a new multi-site PoS management system, covering the retailer’s 60 stores in France and abroad. Anne Fontaine has begun the installation of the AURES Group’s Sango terminals across its estate, operating through a new CEGID software platform.
Shop Direct, which operates digital department stores Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, is the first European e-tailer to introduce Pindrop’s technology to protect its four million customers. The patented Phoneprinting technology creates an ‘audio fingerprint’ of each call by analysing over 1,380 unique call features, such as voice, location, background noise, number history and call type.
New functionality added to Google Assistant means people can send money to friends and family via Google Pay using only their voice. It is now possible to send or request cash from contacts for free using the Assistant on Android and iOS phones in the US, with plans to extend this to voice-activated speakers like Google Home.
Clothing retailer H&M has this week launched on Tmall – a Chinese e-commerce marketplace owned by Alibaba – complementing the retailer’s 400 physical stores and HM.com online shop. The retailer opened its first store in mainland China in 2007, and launched its online shop in the country in 2014. The retail group’s brand Monki has had a strong presence on the Chinese marketplace since launching last year, but the retailer has never previously had its own brand store on the online platform.
Swimwear brand Orlebar Brown has partnered with Cegid to implement a new omnichannel solution, designed to support international growth. With the new upgrade, the retailer will benefit from a consistent functionality across its store formats, providing a consolidated view of the customer across all channels. This will allow Orlebar Brown to better understand consumer buying behaviours and personalise experiences for customers.
UK online retail sales were up 13.1 per cent year-on-year in February, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. With the ‘Beast from the East’ winter storm hitting the UK in the last week of February, shoppers took the internet, driving a 3.5 per cent lift in sales compared to the previous week.
British fashion retailer Fat Face has selected Adyen as a payments partner to enhance its e-commerce presence and expand to new markets. The partnership forms part of a wider five-year strategy for Fat Face to revamp its online offering. The retailer is also working with Astound Commerce to help manage the new e-commerce platform implementation.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has published its Annual Plan and Budget for 2018/19, stating it will not shy away from direct intervention and using its competition powers. Hannah Nixon, managing director of the PSR, said it has succeeded in shaking up a sector that was dominated by major players.
Online retail sales saw a year-on-year increase of 13.7 per cent in February – continuing the pattern of growth in the sector, but at a slower pace than reported last year. This is according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which found that internet sales now account for 17.2 per cent of all retail sales – up from 15.6 per cent in 2017. Average weekly spending online increased in February to £1.23 billion, compared with the £1.19 billion reported in January.
Retail companies are outperforming all other industries when it comes to providing customers with innovative, digitally-driven experiences, a new study from Forrester and Virtusa has found. Firms in the study were asked about three overall categories of digital transformation maturity: customer experience, operational excellence, and business innovation. Overall, retailers averaged a score of 28.17 out of 45 – compared to 26.06 for all firms.
More than half of the UK population (53 per cent) are doing some or all of their grocery shopping online, according to a survey from RichRelevance. The retail personalisation company received responses from over 2,000 participants across the UK, France and Germany. In the latter two countries the figures for online grocery shopping were lower, at 40 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
Instagram has launched its Shopping feature, which enables customers to see brand product information on the social media app, across eight new markets following a successful trial in the US. Introduced in the US in October 2017, the new feature enables retailers and brands to link posts directly to products on their sites, including information such as product description and cost. Brands are able to tag up to five items per post, or 20 products per multi-image post.
Tea and coffee retailer Whittard of Chelsea has selected Tryzens to transform its online store and e-commerce operations as part of a wider omnichannel strategy. The new partnership will enable the retailer to easily and efficiently scale operations, as well as simplify administration and merchandising processes. The two companies will work together to enhance the online journey and experience for customers.
Restaurant chain wagamama has announced the launch of wagamamago – an app that enables customers to simply walk out of the restaurant once they have finished their meal, with payment automatically taken from their account. Created in partnership with Mastercard, the new app will reportedly save diners an average of 12 minutes each time they visit. The two companies have worked together in the past, with the restaurant being the first to use Mastercard Labs’ Qkr! pay-at-table platform in 2015.
BrandAlley has achieved more than 40 per cent year-on-year order growth since deploying an AI-based marketing solution from Emarsys. Through the new platform, BrandAlley has been able to provide customers with an improved personalised offering through more effective campaigns, reshaping its entire acquisition and retention advertising strategy over social media.
eBay has unveiled a new augmented reality (AR) solution to help sellers to identify the best USPS flat rate box for items that they need to ship. Built on Google’s ARCore platform, the new eBay platform uses motion tracking and environmental understanding to place a real-world item inside virtual shipping boxes of various sizes. Users select a box size, place the virtual box over their sold item and check whether it fits, before choosing a physical box or trying to package the item.
Using a debit or credit card with a PIN number is still the preferred method of payment for 42 per cent of people in the UK. Contactless methods followed at 34 per cent, with the majority of these respondents (31 per cent) preferring a contactless card to using their phone or wearable technology (3 per cent).
The board of online fashion retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP) has approved a €2.69bn (£2.37bn) takeover offer by Swiss luxury goods group Richemont. Richemont already owns 49 per cent of YNAP and stated its offer will run from March 19 to May 9. In January, the company issued a public tender offer for the remaining stock, at a rate of €38 (£33.5) per share, equating to a total valuation of €5.3 billion (£4.64 billion).
Insufficient and inaccurate product information was cited as the top reason for consumers abandoning online purchases, a new survey from Pimberly has found. Almost half of respondents to the research cited poor product information, followed by unclear pricing (18 per cent), poor delivery information and options (13 per cent), and a lack of customer reviews (11 per cent).
House of Fraser has joined the 2degrees Manufacture 2030 platform to drive environmental improvements across its supply chain. The retailer is focusing on reducing its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and on reducing the consumption of resources and waste. House of Fraser hopes that this can be achieved by encouraging its suppliers to use the M2030 bee – a digital tool designed to help manufacturing brands easily identify and implement resource efficiency across their operations.
Fashion brand HYPE has secured a five-year deal with Samsung C&T UK, which will help transform the back office and logistics operations for the retailer. Through the new agreement, Samsung will provide HYPE with a 24/7 order management system, inventory purchasing, logistics support, warehouse and invoicing. The partnership is also expected to provide HYPE with additional licensing opportunities and an improved cash flow, aided by improved supplier payment terms.
Barclays has signed partnerships with seven watch brands, including Guess, Mondaine, Timex and Krobaby, to embed contactless bPay technology into traditional watches and fitness trackers. Building on the Timex Fairfield Contactless watch last year, bPay and Timex will launch an expanded range of contactless-enabled watches in May. Guess Watches will also work with bPay to launch a range of six contactless watches.
US Dunkin’ Donuts customers will now be able to use the Google Assistant on iPhones and Android phones to place an order and skip the queue in-store for pick-up. Customers who have a DD Perks account can link directly to the Google platform, completing orders and payments directly from the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile platform. When a guest places and submits an order through the Google Assistant, the distance and estimated time to reach the Dunkin' Donuts restaurant will be identified by Google Maps, and the order will be sent to the restaurant to be ready at that time.
Guus Dekkers has been appointed as chief technology officer at Tesco, following the retirement of Edmond Mesrobian. Dekkers brings extensive experience in driving large scale technology transformations to the role, following a career in information technologies at Volkswagen, Johnson Controls Automotive Group, Siemens, Continental AG, and most recently as chief information officer at Airbus.
Travellers, flight crews and airport personnel at San Diego International Airport will be able to order airport products via their mobile phone and have them delivered to their gate. Developed by Californian startup AtYourGate and mobile ordering platform GOLO, the app enables customers to make a purchase from any of the participating outlets from the airport and have it delivered to their gate or any convenient location across the airport.
Business regulations and rising financial literacy among consumers are boosting card usage globally, while merchant card acceptance is also set to surge by 40 per cent to 85 million outlets worldwide by 2022. This is according to new research from RBR, which found that the number of card-accepting merchant outlets rose by seven million in 2016 to 61 million. Double-digit growth was recorded across Asia-Pacific, central and eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa, with growth expected to continue over the coming years.
Marks and Spencer has selected Zetes to help increase visibility and fulfilment across its fresh food supply chain. Through the visibility platform ZetesOlympus, M&S will gain real-time fulfilment performance insight and will detect any possible disruptions to availability, via real time alerts. The platform, which connects M&S to all its logistics providers, will also encourage greater collaboration across the supply chain.
Customer insights platform Streetbees has raised $12 million in Series A funding, led by Atomico with participation from all existing investors including LocalGlobe, Octopus and BGF Ventures. The investment will be used to further develop its core machine learning technology, which transforms the real-time data provided by its global community of users into actionable insights for brands - and launch its first office in the US.
Gumtree has announced that it will be adding a customer rating functionality to its website and app, as part of a major platform overhaul. Gumtree, which was bought by eBay in 2005, will offer customers the chance to provide feedback on their experiences of sellers, buyers and service providers that they transact with in the ‘for sale’ category, using a 5-star ratings system.
UK gaming retailer GAME has partnered with e-commerce specialist Summit to support its digital transformation strategy with a programmatic video and display campaign. With digital sales at the retailer up 16.8 per cent this year, the transformation plan seeks to improve the customer focus and provide a more compelling omnichannel solution across physical and digital products, services and experiences.
Morrisons has published its preliminary results for the 53 weeks to 4 February, revealing that pre-tax profits grew 11 per cent to £374 million. Sales for the supermarket chain were also up 5.8 per cent to £17.3 billion, while like-for-like same store sales rose 2.8 per cent. Over the course of the year, Morrisons rolled out a number of initiatives to simplify the shopping experience, including automated order, trials of in-store digital signage, and the implementation of express kiosks at a number of stores.
The Treasury has released a report on the future of cash and digital payments in the UK, questioning the continuing importance of the 1p and 2p coins in the UK economy. The report noted that 60 per cent of 1p and 2p coins are used once in a transaction before leaving the cash cycle. They are either saved, or in eight per cent of cases are thrown away. In the past, the Royal Mint has needed to produce and issue more than 500 million 1p and 2p coins each year to replace those falling out of circulation.
Nordea Bank has launched a wearable payment solution through Fitbit and Garmin wearable devices, providing customers with a new way to pay. The service is available to all customers with a private Nordea Mastercard or Visa debit or credit card in Sweden, Denmark and Finland – becoming the first bank in the region to launch such technology. A new wallet solution from Nordea provides improved navigation, a new overview page and support for card enrolment for wearable payment services.
Some 54 per cent of UK consumers would share their personal data in return for reward points, new research from Onbuy has found. The survey of more than 6,000 consumers found that six in 10 consumers would most feel uncomfortable sharing their private conversations from the messaging platforms that they are active on. Access to a customer’s search history from their web browser was the next most cited source of concern (51 per cent).
Global business spend on cyber security solutions will grow by 33 per cent over the next four years, reaching $134 billion annually by 2022. This is according to new research from Juniper, which found that almost 70 per cent of 2022 spend on cybersecurity would originate from medium-sized businesses, as cyber criminals target smaller entities. For financial services, mobile operators, enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) service providers, digital transformation and IoT endeavours were key catalysts for increasing spend to defend assets from threats.
Visa has published its latest UK Consumer Spending Index, revealing a year-on-year dip in over consumer spend of 1.1 per cent – marking the ninth month of decline from the last 10. Weakness continued to stem from the High Street, according to the study, with face-to-face spending down 2.5 per cent when compared with last year – the weakest rate of reduction since June 2017. Spending through online channels meanwhile was up by 0.2 per cent – rising at the slowest pace for 10 months.
Fashion retailer Blue Inc is expanding across Europe with e-commerce payment localisation from Ingenico, incorporating local domains in France, Germany and Russia. Collaborating with Blue Inc’s e-commerce partner Visualsoft, Ingenico established payment solutions for French and Germany domains in under a month, helping to significant reduce the lead time for the retailer’s international expansion.
Selfridges is set to recycle disposable coffee cups generated at its Oxford Street store, with the resulting paper being used to create its iconic yellow shopping bags. Disposed-of cups from the food hall and offices at the department store will be ‘tipped, flipped and stacked’, before the lid, sleeve and cup are separately processed and baled by Veolia. The cups will then be delivered to paper manufacturer James Cropper for reprocessing.
China’s largest retailer JD.com is launching an initiative to promote the development of next-generation smart supply chain technologies. The company’s Global Supply Chain Innovation Centre (GSIC) has been established as an international hub for smart supply chain research and innovation. The centre will bring together industry experts, companies, universities and other institutions to work on research projects focused on new technologies and processes.
UK retail footfall in February dropped by 0.5 per cent year-on-year, following a one per cent increase in February 2017, new BRC-Springboard figures have found. Half of the regions in the UK saw growth in the month, the most notable being Northern Ireland which grew by 0.3 per cent – ending eight months of consecutive decline. East Midlands grew by 2.1 per cent, up from the 2.2 per cent decrease recorded in the previous month, while Greater London and the South East saw declines of 1.1 per cent and one per cent respectively.
Following the success of the inaugural programme last year, intu Accelerate 2018 is now open for applications from retail technology startups looking to enhance the shopping experience. The eight week programme is designed to immerse successful applicants in intu’s business through mentorship from senior leadership and experts from the business and tech departments. Those selected will have the opportunity to pilot and test their products, with access to central London office space and potential investment.
UK consumers are set to spend £600 million on Mother’s Day this year – an increase of 3.4 per cent on the £580 million spent in 2017. This is according to research from Mintel, which found that sentiment for the event is notably higher among mothers (64 per cent) than fathers (53 per cent). The study also found that parents feel they continue to be subjected subjected to gender clichés, as 72 per cent of mums and 67 per cent of dads agree that there are still too many stereotypes in advertising.
Online fashion retail Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) has published its 2017 full year results, revealing a 16.9 per cent uptick in revenues to €2.1 billion, with more than half of sales now through mobile channels. Over the course of the year, the retailer had 842.2 million website visits, compared with 715.5 million in 2016. Some 9.5 million orders were placed by 3.1 million active customers, with an average order value of €328.
KFC has reverted to its previous chicken supplier Bidvest Logistics for up to 350 of its UK stores, after ‘operational issues’ with new partners DHL saw hundreds of outlets close last month due to a lack of stock. From 26 March, Bidvest Logistics will supply stock to more than a third of KFC restaurants, all based in the north of the UK. Last month, the fried chicken chain was forced to close more than 750 of its 900 UK outlets after ‘operational issues’ meant DHL struggled to deploy sufficient stock from its sole UK warehouse in Warwickshire.
Parcel delivery company DPD will be investing £150 million in a new parcel ‘super-hub’ in Hinckley, Leicestershire, that will create 750 jobs. Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council has granted planning permission for a new 82 acre employment park, close to junction 1 of the M69, proposed by IM Properties. DPD will develop a 39 acre site within the park, including the 276,454 square foot main hub building.
Mastercard has announced that it will be integrating its physical and digital payments teams under one organisation from 2 April 2018. The new integrated team will accelerate efforts to create the best solutions for consumers and businesses by securing each transaction and simplifying access to the company’s digital assets. The change comes as Garry Lyons, chief innovation officer at Mastercard, departs the company to launch an outside venture
The total direct financial cost of retail crime has increased six per cent to £700 million year-on-year, new research from the British Retail Consortium has found. The annual Retail Crime Survey found that there was a notable improvement in some areas, such as fraud, where the cost to retailers fell by almost £30 million, as a result of significant investment in prevention.
The John Lewis Partnership has published its annual results this morning, revealing a 21.9 per cent dip in profits and a staff bonus of just five per cent – the lowest in 64 years. The trading update, for the year to 27 January 2018, showed that total sales across John Lewis and Waitrose increased two per cent to £11.5 billion, while profits before partnership bonus, tax and exceptional items dropped 21.9 per cent to £289.2 million. The company attributed the drop in profits to lower gross margins in Waitrose “driven by the weaker exchange rate and commitment to competitive pricing”.
Mobile payments and loyalty app Zapper has gone live in a third of Spar stores operated by Gillett’s in the south-west of England. Shoppers can use Zapper to make payments, redeem offers and receive digital loyalty points in-store, by opening the app and scanning the QR code on the digital display at the till point. Zapper was originally trialled at six stores in the Gillett’s Spar chain and has now been rolled out to 20 of its 60 sites in the region, specifically around Plymouth, Exeter and Torquay.
ASOS has taken the top spot in a report benchmarking the online performance of the UK’s 50 biggest grossing retailers. Based on an assessment of 280 criteria across four business areas, ASOS claimed first place in Summit’s 2018 Scorecard ranking with a mark of 75 per cent. The pure-play fashion retailer was followed by Asda (74 per cent), Tesco (73 per cent) and Argos (71 per cent) with Next, Amazon and Boots all scoring 69 per cent to take joint fifth place.
The Co-op has started trials of a new mobile app where customers can checkout their in-store purchases on their phone, without visiting a till. The technology allows consumers to scan products on their own device as they walk around the supermarket. When they have finished shopping, the amount they owe will then be deducted from their mobile wallet with a single click. The technology has been built in association with Mastercard and uses Masterpass, the payment company’s digital account offering.
Cyber security, Big Data analytics and enterprise cloud are the top three digital technologies currently being utilised within the retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries, according to new research. The survey of 115 IT decision makers in the retail sector and 109 in the CPG sector, conducted by Vanson Bourne for Infosys, also revealed the industries’ current state of tech investment and predicted future tech trends.
Discount retailer Home Bargains has signed a three-year managed hosting services contract with technology provider SysGroup. The deal will see SysGroup deliver more than £950,000 worth of managed infrastructure hosting and support to the retailer from March 2018. This includes the implementation of specialist security measures to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, set to come into effect this May.
Online sales of non-food items in the UK rose 6.4 per cent last month, but could not match the growth rate of 8.0 per cent recorded in February 2017, the latest figures show. February 2018’s growth rate was also below the three-month and 12-month averages of 6.5 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively, according to the new statistics from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG. But the UK’s online penetration rate – the share of retail sales attributed to internet shopping – increased from 20.5 per cent in February 2017 to 21.1 per cent in February 2018.
Seven in 10 UK businesses are lacking in terms of proper data management ahead of the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May. This is according to a new study from Claranet, which surveyed 750 IT decision-makers in the UK. It found that 69 per cent of respondents were not able to secure customer data effectively, with 45 per cent encountering challenges around securing customer details when making digital improvements.
The entry deadline for this year’s Retail Systems Awards has been extended to Monday 2 April, so there is still time to submit your organisation’s entries. Now in their 13th successful year, Retail Systems Awards recognise technology excellence and innovation within the retail sector. There are 26 trophies up for grabs this year, including three new categories: Online Innovation of the Year, Multi-Channel Solution of the Year, and Best Use of Augmented or Virtual Reality.
Mobile commerce is set to become a luxury shopping experience for consumers, with Millennials seeking a five-star experience from their retail apps. This is according to a new survey from Worldpay, which found that the UK is behind the rest of the world when it comes to mobile retail apps, as 37 per cent of British consumers still prefer to purchase items via a mobile browser over an app – more than any other country globally.
The UK’s top 20 online-only retailers have seen sales increase by 23 per cent in the last year, hitting a total of £8.4 billion in 2017. This is according to new research from professional services firm RPC, which attributes the sharp increase to the rise of mobile commerce and the implementation of new technologies, including AI-driven chatbots, augmented reality functionality, smart speakers and social media purchasing.
Some 44 per cent of UK shoppers avoid brands that do not offer them personalised, relevant offers, new research from Ecrebo has found. In addition, 68 per cent of respondents said that they expected to be offered promotions based on their past purchases. Loyalty programmes also proved to be popular among consumers, with 85 per cent of shoppers stating they would be more likely to shop with a brand if it offered a loyalty scheme.
Jewellery retailer Pandora has signed a partnership with Quintiq for use of its production planning solution, with an aim of doubling production capacity by 2019. Pandora will implement the system in its three crafting facilities in Thailand, where more than 95 per cent of its jewellery was produced in 2017. Through the new system, Pandora will be able to optimise its production planning, enhancing production capacity and increasing productivity.
Three quarters of UK consumers expect retail brands and businesses to be using social media to improve their level of service, while 39 per cent admitted that they will shun a brand if their social engagement is poor. This is according to a new study from HSO, which found that 85 per cent of consumers would anticipate a reply if they had posted a negative comment about a business online, while 74 per cent would also expect a reply if they posted a positive comment.
Increasing internet access, smartphone penetration and security are driving rapid growth in e-commerce card payments, which are set to more than double in the next four years. This is according to new research from RBR, which predicts that the number of card payments made online will jump from 29 billion in 2016 to 70 billion in 2022. The research also found that the number of e-commerce card payments was up 28 per cent year-on-year in 2016, representing nine per cent of all card payments.
Mastercard has announced that it will be using Facebook Messenger to provide QR technology to small businesses in Africa and Asia, to help drive affordable acceptance of electronic and mobile payments. This will initially launch in Nigeria, where Mastercard will trial a new Masterpass QR bot to help businesses accept QR payments. Ecobank and Zenith Bank will support the inaugural programme.
Insurer Allianz has signed a partnership with Visa to launch a new payments and loyalty app called Allianz Prime, enabling customers to make secure payments with their mobile both in-store and online. The app, which features built-in token technology for security, also features a loyalty programme and a money management tool for customers to keep on top of their spending. Users will be able to complete payments anywhere in the world where contactless payments are accepted.
UK SaaS technology firm Eagle Eye has been working with Loblaw – Canada’s biggest food and pharmacy retailer – to roll out one of the largest digital loyalty programmes in the country. The Eagle Eye AIR digital marketing platform is now live, enabling the new PC Optimum loyalty programme from Loblaw. The programme combines two Canadian loyalty programmes, PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum, which had eight million and 11 million members respectively prior to the new update.
UK retailer JD Sports has selected and rolled out TruRating’s customer feedback platform across its 360 stores. Each customer is asked a single anonymous question while paying, pushing one button to rate from 0-9 on the point of sale device. Questions rotate between transactions, enabling JD Sports to ask about different aspects of the customer experience and get almost immediate answers. The simple system attracts a high response rate from customers.
Spending via smartphones reached £975 million in the UK in 2017, representing a 328 per cent year-on-year increase, according to new data from Worldpay. The number of in-store contactless transactions made via a mobile device totalled 126 million last year, with almost a third of consumers making use of their phone’s payment capabilities. Supermarkets accounted for 59 per cent of all in-store mobile transactions, while pubs, bars and restaurants accounted for a further 12.5 per cent.
Today (1 March) is the last day that consumers can use their paper £10 notes to pay at retail outlets before they are no longer legal tender. The Bank of England estimates that there are around 211 million paper £10 notes still in circulation – representing 17 per cent of all £10 notes currently in circulation. After today, people will still be able to exchange the paper notes at the Bank of England indefinitely, in person or via post.
Online retail delivery order volumes were up 20.6 per cent year-on-year this January, representing the strongest January growth for online order volumes since 2013. This is according to the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index, which noted that footfall in the same period fell to its lowest rate in five years. The study attributes this to the poor weather the UK has experienced.
Santander UK has partnered with merchant acquiring partner Elavon to enable its business customers to join the European network of Chinese payment wallet providers. Santander customers will now have the option to accept Chinese payment methods via their own websites. Elavon plans to expand this functionality across its PoS solutions, which already accept UnionPay, by the end of 2018.
Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has launched a new accelerator – AI Catapult – designed specifically for the development of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. AI Catapult will partner with blockchain startups to build new businesses and create and test real world applications of their technologies at scale. Participants will have the opportunity to work wide a wide variety of operational teams within JD.
UK retailers Maplin and Toys R Us have both collapsed into administration after failing to secure rescue deals, putting more than 5,500 employee jobs at risk. A weak pound following the Brexit vote, weak consumer confidence and a withdrawal of credit insurance contributed to the firms’ downfalls, with these factors making it ‘impossible’ to raise capital, according to Maplin CEO Graham Harris.
Pizza Hut has announced that it will be rolling out Mastercard’s Qkr! app to its restaurants in the UK from 19 March, enabling customers to pay for their meal through their smartphone without having to ask for the bill. Developed by Mastercard Labs, Qkr! enables customers to order, pay and split bills from their mobile phones without having to queue or wait for the bill to be brought to their table.
Visa has partnered with Spain’s CaixaBank and the National Bank of Greece to enable European customers to pay for goods using their wearable devices. CaixaBank and Visa have teamed up with Garmin in Spain to enable Visa cardholders who own a Garmin watch to make in-store payments. Customers can load their Visa card onto the device and complete payments anywhere that accepts contactless.
Swedish design brand kikki.K is to redevelop its e-commerce operations as it continues with its international expansion plans. The retailer, founded in 2001 by Kristina Karlsson, sells products ranging from homewares to stationery. In 17 years, the brand has grown from just one store to over 330 worldwide, and its online shop ships to 143 countries.
High Street restaurant chain Prezzo is to trial a new payments app developed by Barclaycard, which will allow customers to settle their bill on their mobile then leave the restaurant. The new fast-track system, called ‘Dine & Dash’, means customers no longer need to wait for staff to physically deliver a bill to their table and take a payment. It is the latest ‘just walk out’ technology to hit the hospitality and retail sector, following the likes of Mastercard’s Qkr! app and the new Amazon Go store.
Oak Furniture Land has appointed Alex Fisher as chief operating officer, to help spearhead the retailer’s multi-channel and international growth. Fisher is succeeding Terry King who has taken up the position of chief executive with immediate effect. Fisher was previously chief executive officer at Watchshop, and his past roles include posts at Tesco, Morrisons, Clarks and Mothercare.
Women’s clothing retailer Kookai is tapping technology from stockinstore to boost real-time stock visibility for its omnichannel customers. Kookai has implemented the solution across its Shopify websites, and said that the technology was already enhancing its customer shopping experiences and boosting conversion rates.
Drinks company Pernod Ricard UK has awarded a new six-year warehousing and logistics contract to existing provider Wincanton. The contract renewal includes warehousing in an HMRC-approved bonded site and transport solutions for key UK customer deliveries. The deal builds on a partnership between the two companies that dates back to 1999 and will see the pair’s relationship extended to 24 years.
Dedicated shopping apps are driving widespread mobile sales success for European retailers, according to a new report from Criteo. The study found that the performance gains are substantial when a retailer prioritises app optimisation alongside its mobile web offering. Retailers with a shopping app see half on online transactions taking place through mobile, with 54 per cent of those taking place via their app – opposed to on mobile web.
Point of sale (PoS) technology firm Ecrebo has appointed Kelvin Clibbon as chief technology officer (CTO), who will focus on enhancing the company’s PoS platform. Clibbon brings more than 20 years’ experience to the role, joining from Lumeon where he worked as chief technology officer. Previously, he led a team of more than 250 engineers as chief technology officer for Powa Technologies, an e-commerce and mobile payments provider.
Shopping centre group intu has published its annual results for the year ended 31 December 2017, revealing a 50 per cent increase in sales for retailers using its online platform. The group has increased investment in its digital offering, with image recognition recently introduced to assist product search. The website’s premium section ‘Shop Insider’ saw traffic up almost 200 per cent in the year to 1.5 million visits – leading to a 50 per cent increase in the number of visits to the shopping pages.
Rapid e-commerce growth in Western Europe is forcing retailers to reconfigure their physical store footprint as footfall continues to decline, new research from Forrester has suggested. The company’s Online Retail Forecast predicted that online retail sales will grow at an average of 11.9 per cent over the next five years in Western Europe, with Italy and Spain expected to see the fastest growth. Furthermore, the report forecasted that 21 per cent of non-grocery retail sales will be online by 2022, while e-commerce will account for 4.5 per cent of grocery sales.
Hotel Chocolat has published its half year results for the 26 weeks ended 31 December 2017, revealing 16 per cent growth in website sites – driven by an increase in traffic from mobile devices. Total revenues were up 15 per cent to £71.7 million, with profit before tax was also up 15 per cent to £12.9 million. The retailer opened 10 new stores over the period, contributing five per cent to group sales growth.
Retail group NBrown, whose brands include JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo, has adopted IBM Cloud to better serve customers across multiple digital channels and expand its reach into new marketplaces. With continued growth in online sales, the retailer required high performance connectivity and the ability to scale to keep pace with global demand. By choosing IBM Cloud, customers of NBrown will now be able to browse products across the retailer’s web and mobile sites with more flexible credit options.
A quarter of Europeans expect to start using a wearable device, such as a smartwatch, bracelet or keyring, to complete contactless payments, according to new figures from Mastercard. Contactless spend on Mastercard and Maestro grew by 145 per cent in the last year, as the tap-and-go payment method continues to grow in popularity. Barriers to using contactless have also decreased, according to Mastercard, with concerns around fraud dropping 24 per cent across Europe, particularly in the Netherlands (-41 per cent), Spain (-33 per cent) and the UK (-31 per cent).
Google is rolling out an update to its Android Pay mobile app, rebranding the payments service as Google Pay in order to unite all of its different payment tools under the Google Pay brand. The new payments app will also host some new features as the firm aims to make payments ubiquitous across online, in-app and in-store. The Google Pay homepage will now highlight nearby stores where you can pay through the service, based on previous purchases and stores you have visited.
Amsterdam Schiphol airport has partnered with Deliveroo to launch a pilot in which passengers flying from Pier E can order food and drinks directly to their gate. Passengers can order their meals via the Deliveroo app or website, with meals prepared in the street food market and delivered by Schiphol’s food and beverage partner HMSHost. Orders are delivered by scooter to the gate or the Mercure Hotel for a delivery charge of €2.50.
UK digital retailer Shop Direct has selected Vectra to protect its e-commerce sites and enterprise operations, streamlining security operations. Shop Direct, whose brands include Very and Littlewoods, has four million active users across its sites and over £1.9 billion in annual sales. The new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now requires firms to actively mitigate cyber risks, with stringent penalties should a retailer not be compliant.
A lack of omnichannel integration between online and in-store loyalty programmes is leaving seven in 10 UK shoppers disappointed, new research has found. The survey from Vodat, which quizzed over 1,000 UK consumers, found that a lack of personalisation was the top frustration for shoppers when it came to retailers’ loyalty schemes, with 65 per cent of respondents stating that they do not get sufficiently targeted offers in-store.
Retailers using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to create real-time personalised experiences for their customers are 50 per cent more likely to exceed their business goals than those who are not, new research has found. Adobe’s Digital Trends report revealed that AI is becoming an important driver of customer experience execution – particularly true in larger enterprises, where 24 per cent of respondents said they were pushing forward with AI investments.
Marketplace app and retail analytics firm Mallzee has closed its latest funding round, taking total funding to more than £5 million. The new funding came from existing investors SIB and Par Equity, and new investors Equity Gap and London Scottish Investment Group. The injection of money will be used to support accelerated sales of its products, aimed at improving retailer margins.
Fast food giant KFC was forced to close over 750 of its 900 UK outlets, following ‘operational issues’ after switching its delivery contract to DHL. Until 13 February, Bidvest Logistics was responsible for distributing KFC’s chicken across its UK network, but the fast food chain switched to DHL in a bid to increase profits, according to GMB. As a result of the switch, there were 255 redundancies and a Bidvest depot was forced to close.
Harvey Nichols has boosted its online conversation rate by 31 per cent following an improved merchandising strategy which encourages customers to explore its website in more depth. Click-throughs from category pages also saw a 23 per cent uplift among customers shopping via mobile devices over the same period. The retailer implemented the new merchandising strategy as part of a recent website restructure with ATTRAQT Fredhopper.
UK online retail sales were up 13.9 per cent year-on-year in January, according to the latest figures from IMRG-Capgemini. The study also found that the expected post-Christmas month-on-month decline (-20.4 per cent) was less than the five-year average of -24.1 per cent. IMRG attributed this to the above-average rainfall in January, resulting in the lowest recorded High Street footfall in five years.
A third of small business owners expect cryptocurrency payments to become a reality on the British High Street within two years, according to new research. Card machine provider Paymentsense surveyed 500 small business owners in the UK, and found that a fifth predicted that cryptocurrency payments would start appearing even sooner, within just one year.
A quarter of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two per cent in 2017, according to Gartner. More than half of organisations have already invested in VCAs for customer service, as they look to benefit from the advantages of automated self-service, together with the ability to escalate to a human agent in complex situations, the analyst firm said.
With Chinese New Year celebrations still underway globally, forecasts are predicting a bumper shopping period for UK retail. Retail tourism specialists Global Blue noted that spending from Chinese visitors has consistently increased every February over the last three years in the UK. In February 2017 the average spend per transaction for Chinese shoppers was £922, a 23.5 per cent increase from the same month in 2016 when average spend per transaction was £746.
Walmart is reportedly seeking a deal to purchase a stake of more than 40 per cent in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart. This is according to a report from Reuters, which states that the deal would value the Indian firm at more than $12 billion, although the terms under discussion are not immediately available. Flipkart was founded in 2007 and has grown to become India’s leading e-commerce market with more than 80 million products across 80 categories.
Gatwick has reportedly become the first major airport to introduce a cloud-based flight information display system (FIDS), designed to improve passenger communication. The system, called VisionAir, is able to run on battery-powered mobile screens with 4G connectivity, independent from other airport systems or infrastructure if required. The real-time system is will be quicker than previous solutions, providing customers with fast information to announcements and disruptions.
Online retail sales in the UK grew 9.1 per cent year-on-year in January – marking continued growth but at a much slower pace than previous years. This is according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which noted that online sales in January 2017 rose 19.2 per cent year-on-year. All four main sectors reported growth this year, with non-food stores recorded the largest growth of 12.8 per cent.
High Street fashion retailer Mango is working with Vodafone on a new programme to roll out digital fitting rooms in the company’s top global stores. The fitting room has been designed around a new Internet of Things (IoT) digital mirror designed by Mango. The mirror will allow the shopper to scan the clothes tags in the fitting room and contact the shop floor staff directly from the mirror, to request different sizes or colours. The mirror also has the ability to suggest additional clothes to complement the original choice.
Tesco has issued an apology to customers following a payments glitch that saw a three month delay in processing hundreds of credit and debit card payments. The error with the retailer’s payments system affected around 300 of Tesco’s 1,700 Express convenience stores, causing some customers to enter into unarranged overdrafts as a result of the delay. A Tesco spokesperson said: “As soon as we identified this issue, we contacted as many affected
Burberry has announced a new partnership with online marketplace Farfetch, expanding the brand’s e-commerce reach to over 150 countries. Technology developed by Burberry has been integrated with the Farfetch API, allowing the brand’s global inventory to be available through a single e-commerce platform. The two firms will work together on how the brand is presented on the Farfetch marketplace, ensuring that the images and narrative provide a consistent digital experience.
Autoglass has successfully trialled an artificial intelligence (AI) imaging solution to assess the severity of vehicle glass damage and determine whether customers require a repair or full window replacement. Autoglass stocks over 99 per cent of all windscreens but being able to accurately identify whether a replacement is needed prior to an appointment being booked is crucial to providing a convenient service for customers.
For a third consecutive year, John Lewis has been ranked the top ‘traditional’ retailer in the UK for customer experience, according to the latest benchmarking report from Forrester. John Lewis was awarded first place for its commitment to customer service levels, including its price matching promise. Waitrose, Argos and M&S retained their dominance in rounding out the top four, while Asda suffered the largest decline in the rankings, dropping four spots to 13th.
Walmart has released a variety of new mobile app tools as part of its new Store Assistant feature, designed to completely reimagine the in-store shopping experience for customers. Store Assistant provides customers with a host of features, including Walmart Pay and an enhanced product search and scanner – enabling customers to read reviews, find items in-store and double check prices.
Food manufacturer Mars has implemented automated handling systems and robotics at its French logistics site. The site, managed by supply chain service provider XPO, will be able to accommodate up to 10 million packages a year through the new robotics system. The facility manages the storage and distribution of Mars products including Pedigree, Whiskas, M&Ms, Twix, Snickers, Celebrations, Skittles, and Uncle Bens.
Online marketplace eBay has hired Jan Pedersen as vice president and chief scientist, who will lead the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) strategy to deliver new customer experiences across its online platform. Pedersen will be responsible for the firm’s technology strategy, including computer vision, natural language understanding and machine learning, to enhance the way in which eBay interacts with its customers.
The global value of consumer spend on digital and physical goods made via remote payments will surpass $3.3 trillion this year, up 10 per cent on 2017, new research from Juniper has found. The latest study noted that alternative payment mechanisms would comprise an increasing proportion of online spend, with PayPal already accounting for 20 per cent of the mobile and online transactions made for physical goods outside of China. The success of Alipay and Weixin Pay within China means that these two firms combined now account for 45 per cent of global payment volumes.
Sports Direct has signed a deal with Game Digital to open e-sports arenas for gamers to meet and compete in some of its UK stores. Sports Direct has paid £3.2 million to Game Digital for 50 per cent of its Belong business, which owns the gaming arenas in the UK. Belong was launched by Game a year ago in the Manchester Trafford Centre, and has expanded to 19 locations.
UK discount retailer The Works says it has seen a 37 per cent uplift in e-commerce sales after implementing an AI-powered personalised online search from RichRelevance. Previously, The Works employees lacked visibility into their site search performance due to their black-box solution. After implementing the new Find platform, the retailer was able to highly relevant on-site search results, using real-time saw 36 per cent of online sales directly attributed to the personalised site search solution over the peak Christmas period.
US same-day grocery delivery service Instacart has closed a $200 million Series E funding round, led by Coatue Management, valuing the company at approximately $4.2 billion. In 2017, the US firm’s Express subscriber base grew by 300 per cent, as the company moved beyond big cities and into smaller regions. Instacart launched in over 160 new metropolitan areas over the course of the year and is now available to 70 million households in the US and Canada.
Only half of UK retailers have a digital strategy in place, despite there being a clear consumer appetite for the latest technologies, new research from Fujitsu has found. Seven in 10 of the 2,000 British consumers surveyed said that retail has already been dramatically transformed by technology. Almost half (46 per cent) believed that augmented reality (AR) could positively impact retail, while 22 per cent thought the same of virtual reality.
Online sales this Valentine’s Day are expected to jump by 17 per cent, according to PCA Predict, as UK shoppers increasingly turn to online for romantic gifts. The study found that last year UK consumers left it till the last minute to make online purchases for their partners, with sales jumping by 19.5 per cent from 12 February to the 13 February. Spending will be concentrated across three areas, according to PCA Predict
Yodel has become the sole UK delivery partner of online lingerie and swimwear retailer Figleaves, providing customers with a range of delivery options. Yodel will provide customers with greater visibility of the delivery status through its online tracking, as well as improved communications. Shoppers will also receive Figleaves-branded email updates, SMS messages and push notifications through the Yodel app.
Optical and digital technology firm Olympus is launching an online global shop and has signed Wirecard as a payments partner. Wirecard will integrate payment methods including Apple Pay, IDEAL, credit card payments, MrCash and P24, as well as handling all payment processing. Olympus will also be using a customised version of the risk management system FPS, which identifies data and behaviour patterns in real-time and uses machine learning and AI to ensure security.
Total footfall in the UK dropped 1.6 per cent year-on-year this January, a deeper rate of annual decline than in January 2017 (1.3 per cent), new BRC-Springboard figures have found. All regions across the UK experienced a drop in retail footfall in January, with the sharpest decrease seen in Scotland (-4.6 per cent), the South West (-2.6 per cent), and the East (-2.5 per cent). Footfall in Greater London was down 1.2 per cent, compared with December’s decrease of 3.7 per cent.
Customer service has reached a digital tipping point, according to new research from Aspect Software, with two thirds of UK consumers preferring to use text-based channels over speaking with a live person on the phone. The survey found that UK consumers are much more likely to use text-based interactions, such as online live chats or Facebook Messenger, than Americans or Europeans.
Cosmetics and beauty retailer KICKS is aiming to boost its stock availability and improve strategic planning operations with an overhaul of its supply chain management systems. Technology supplier RELEX has been selected to provide a new supply chain solution which will be tailored to the needs of KICK’s online channel and 250 stores across Sweden, Norway and Finland.
US beauty manufacturer Coty has announced that its Covergirl brand is launching a mobile web augmented reality (AR) experience, enabling customers to try on virtual makeup from within their mobile browser. The experience will feature five beauty looks for customers to virtually apply to their face using the live camera on their mobile device or desktop computer. Coty is working with Walmart to make it easy for customers to purchase the items, with a link directly to the range on Walmart.com.
Doddle has revealed ambitious plans to open 500 new UK locations in 2018, enabled by a in-store partnership with Zebra Technologies to provide improved customer services and reduced costs. Doddle employees are now using Zebra handheld computers and desktop printers to efficiently track and map the full Click and Collect journey for customer packages, and improve the speed of customer service at lower cost.
Amazon has confirmed the introduction of free two-hour delivery of products from Whole Foods Market through Prime Now in a number of US cities, with a view to expand in the coming months. Launching today, Prime customers in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach can shop through Prime Now for Whole Foods goods, including fresh produce and meat, everyday staples and other locally-sourced items.
The overall number of e-commerce fraud attacks in Q4 2017 was more than the total volume recorded across all industries in the previous quarter, new research from ThreatMetrix has found. Q4 saw an unprecedented level of attacks on e-commerce with almost 193 million rejected transactions – representing a 92 per cent on the previous quarter and 173 per cent increase on the previous year.
Pizza Hut has signed a three year contract extension with Retail Assist for its IT support services across its UK restaurant estate. The renewal forms part of the chains five-year technology vision, which includes new menus, store re-images and an emphasis on digital customer experience to provide a new in-store atmosphere for visitors. Due to the change in strategy, Pizza Hut support services required streamlining to reflect an increased reliance on IT and optimise cost-effectiveness
Amazon has been rated as the world’s most valuable brand ahead of Apple and Google, after its value increased by 42 per cent from 2016. This is according to the Brand Finance Global 500 report, which noted that Amazon has grown to become the world’s largest internet business by both market capitalisation and revenue – with the brand recently expanding into the cloud infrastructure and electronics markets.
Verifone has signed a deal with e-commerce payment firm Mash to roll out a ‘pay later’ solution use in retail stores across Europe. The new service will offer consumers the option to pay for the purchases later, while enabling merchants to immediately collect payment. Within 14 days, the consumer will receive an invoice to pay the balance in full or choose to convert the payment into a monthly instalment plan.
Fashion retailer matchesfashion.com has partnered with Rant & Rave to implement its multi-channel feedback programme to gauge customer sentiment. The programme, which uses email, SMS, website and a mobile app to gain customer insights, replaces the retailer’s previous system which was a single multi-question survey – resulting in low feedback volumes and limited insights.
Ocado has published its financial results for the year ended 3 December, revealing a substantial drop in pre-tax profits, as the retailer ramped up investment in its technology arm. The online-only grocer saw sales increase by 12.4 per cent to £1.3 billion, while solutions revenues grew by 16.2 per cent to £115.5 million. However, the retailer reported a loss of £500,000 compared with a £12 million profit in 2016.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has published its financial results for the quarter ended 31 December 2018, revealing revenues of $12.7 billion – an increase of 56 per cent year-on-year. Revenue from core commerce increased 57 per cent year-on-year to $11.2 billion, while revenue from digital media and entertainment was up 33 per cent year-on-year to $832 million. Revenue from innovation initiatives and others dropped nine per cent to $119 million.
Flux has integrated digitised loyalty rewards into Starling Bank’s mobile app, instantly displaying loyalty stamps when a customer uses their Starling card at a participating retail partner. The integration marks the second stage of a partnership between Starling and Flux, which unveiled real-time digitised itemised receipts for customers in September last year. Flux will automatically send loyalty rewards to Starling customer accounts.
Marks and Spencer has announced the appointment of data science company Starcount, to help enhance customer understanding and insight through personalisation of the retailer’s loyalty and CRM programmes. The deal, which forms part of the retailer’s five-year transformation plans, will include the personalisation of the M&S Sparks Card – which currently has over six million members. Starcount will utilise its technology to map out customer trends to predict future buying behaviour.
UK retail sales were up 1.4 per cent on a total basis in January, with online sales up 5.3 per cent, new figures from the British Retail Consortium have found. The sales increase is roughly in line with the three month and 12-month averages of 1.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively, while sales increased 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Over the three months to January, in-store sales of non-food items dropped 2.9 per cent on a total basis and 3.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Singapore Airlines is set to launch the world’s first blockchain-based loyalty digital wallet as part of its KrisFlyer programme, enabling customers to use their air miles at participating retail partners. A new app utilising the technology is expected to be rolled out in the next six months, following a successful proof-of-concept exercise carried out in collaboration with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft.
BMW Group UK has revealed the five technology startups that will be participating in this year’s BMW Innovation Lab. The startups will now undertake a 10-week residency at the lab to develop their applications, before pitching to senior BMW executives on 22 March 2018. Successful startups will then be able to secure ongoing relationships with the automotive firm’s UK commercial divisions.
Fashion retailer Fat Face has partnered with Whishworks to power omnichannel experiences across mobile, web and physical stores. The retailer has implemented Mulesoft’s Anypoint platform, which enables customers to shop across all devices and channels with a consistent experience. Fat Face has also created an API-led application network to enable further innovation in the future.
Seven in 10 online shoppers across Europe have bought items from retailers outside their home country, a new survey has found. The UPS research showed that almost all European online shoppers (96 per cent) had bought on marketplaces, and of those, 67 per cent cited better prices as the reason for purchasing on a marketplace instead of a retailer, while 43 percent cited a broader selection of products within any given category.
Retail footfall in the UK dropped 6.6 per cent in January, marking the ninth consecutive month of footfall decline, new figures from Ipsos Retail Performance have found. The fall in retail traffic was felt most in South East England and London, which recorded a 12 per cent drop when compared with January 2017. In Northern England and Scotland, heavy snow caused footfall to slump in the second half of the month.
Amazon has published its financial results for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2017, revealing a sales increase of 38 per cent to $60.5 billion. The sales increase compares with $43.7 billion in the fourth quarter 2016. Operating income increased 69 per cent to $2.1 billion over the period, compared with operating income of $1.3 billion a year previous.
China’s largest retailer JD.com has announced plans to sell £2 billion of UK goods to Chinese consumers in the next three years, following a deal with the British government’s Department of International Trade (DIT). The agreement comes as the DIT wants to make it easier for British companies to access the Chinese e-commerce market through JD.com. Prime Minister Theresa May met with JD chairman and CEO Richard Liu to discuss the relationship between the two countries.
The number of retail searches made on Google during the Black Friday shopping event overtook those conducted on Boxing Day for the first time last year, new figures from the British Retail Consortium have found. Total UK retail search volumes grew three per cent across all devices in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with the same quarter a year ago.
Sainsbury’s has completed the £60 million purchase of the Nectar loyalty programme from Canadian company Aimia. Sainsbury’s was a founding partner of the Nectar coalition in 2002, and is now the loyalty programme’s largest issuance and redemption partner. The agreement is subject to working capital adjustments based on closing accounts, with net working capital amounts paid to Sainsbury’s at closing of approximately £55 million.
Bankwest customers in Australia are now able to tap and pay for goods using the Bankwest Halo, reported to be Australia’s first payment ring. The release of the payments ring forms part of the bank’s focus on providing its customers with new and innovative methods of payment. The ring links to a customer’s Bankwest account and works like a contactless card.
Online marketplace eBay has announced that Dutch payments company Adyen will become its primary payments processing partner, ending a 15-year relationship with PayPal. eBay said it intends to improve its customer experience by intermediating payments on its website, managing the payments flow and simplifying the payments experience for buyers and sellers. Customers will no longer have to leave the eBay website in order to complete transactions.
myPOS, a new mobile payment system which claims to be the first to allow retailers instant access to their funds, has launched in the UK market. The myPOS system – which will be a rival to iZettle and Square – says it has been designed to remove the barriers to small retailers and business accepting card payments. It combines a mobile point of sale terminal with an online account and business card, enabling traders to accept card payments as readily as cash.
Seven in 10 shoppers research items online before completing the transaction in-store, while 54 per cent research in-store before buying online, new survey finds. The research from BookingBug, which surveyed 2,000 consumers across the US and UK, found that 37 per cent of people do more online shopping now than they did last year. However stores remain the main purchase channel for 52 per cent of consumers in the US and 41 per cent in the UK.
M&S has revealed plans to close 14 stores in the coming months, affecting 468 employees who will now enter a period of consultation. The move forms part of the company’s transformation plan, which intends to reposition 25 per cent of clothing & home space through a combination of closures, downsizes, relocations and conversions to food-only stores.
Latvian national airline airBaltic has announced a partnership with European payments firm Trustly, enabling online customers to make cross-border purchases directly from their bank account. airBaltic customers in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Estonia and Poland will now be able to make cross-border online banking payments, with six more markets set to join the new payment system in the first half of 2018.
Three quarters of retail chief information officers (CIOs) believe that IT complexity could soon make it impossible to manage digital performance efficiently, a new study has found. The report from Dynatrace found that retailers are rolling out new digital services, such as virtual and augmented reality applications, to enhance the shopping experience both online and in-store. However, the adoption of new technologies to support these innovations, such as multi-cloud, microservices and containers, is creating issues for the retailers’ IT teams.
ING has agreed a €270 million deal to acquire a 75 per cent stake in omnichannel payments service provider Payvision. The transaction, which forms part of ING’s Think Forward strategy, has been completed to strengthen ING’s footprint in omnichannel payments services and expand its merchant services for its business customers. Founded in 2002, Dutch firm Payvision is an independent international card acquirer and payments platform
Two thirds of Millennials want to see innovation when it comes to their in-store shopping experience, a new report from Onbuy.com has found. The survey found that although in-store shopping is still the most popular method among consumers, the frequency of mobile shopping has overtaken tablet shopping and is also set to overtake PC shopping. At this rate, according to Onbuy, mobile shopping could overtake in-store shopping within the next five years.
Visa’s online payment method Visa Checkout has surpassed one million enrolled accounts in the UK since launching seven months ago. Visa Checkout enables customers to pay for goods online across any device with some of the world’s leading merchants. Online travel agent lastminute.com became the first retailer in the UK and Ireland to integrate the platform, and since then, other prominent online retailers have joined including The Hut Group, AXS, Domino’s, Ebuyer, HMV, Match.com and Mighty Deals.
Technology retailer Maplin has partnered with payments provider Klarna to introduce the firm’s Pay later and Slice It services to online customers. Maplin customers will now be able to order goods online and pay for them either at a later date or spread the cost over time. Pay later enables online and mobile Maplin customers making purchases of £200 or less to receive their products and pay for them 30 days later, with no interest or fees.
Technology giant IBM is trialling its new checkout technology, which is reportedly 15 times faster than standard self-service checkouts, at a Shell Select store in North London. The new system scans the entire basket or trolley in one go using radio frequency ID chips, which contain much more information than a barcode. Customers simply place all of their items on the checkout shelf, before a list of their items will appear on screen.
Planning applications for new shops have fallen for a ninth consecutive year, as businesses increasingly turn to online for commerce, new figures show. New research from peer-to-peer lending platform Lendy shows that the number of planning applications for shops and shopping centres in England has dropped 55 per cent since 2008. The study also found that retail vacancy rates have risen to more than 12 per cent, with many retailers putting store openings on hold or closed underperforming outlets.
Chinese mobile giant Huawei has partnered with UnionPay International to accelerate the international roll-out of its Huawei Pay mobile payments service. Through the agreement, Huawei and Honor mobile phone users will be able to complete mobile transactions by adding their UnionPay bank cards to their Huawei Pay account. The company uses payment token technology to effectively protect the privacy and data security of cardholders.
Amazon has unveiled plans to open a new fulfilment centre in Rugby, in order to meet increasing customer demand and expand product selection. The new location will be the fourth fulfilment centre in the Midlands and will add 400 new permanent jobs to the region. Rugby adds to Amazon’s £6.4 billion investment in the UK since 2010. Amazon has started recruiting for a range of new roles for the fulfilment centre, including operations managers, engineers, HR and IT specialists.
Mobile fashion marketplace Depop has announced the closure of a $20 million Series B funding round, led by Octopus Ventures. The funding round also included TempoCap, who will be joining current investors Balderton, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, H-FARM, Creandum, Lumar and Italian entrepreneurs Luca Marzotto and Renzo Rosso from OTB/Diesel Group.
Walmart has announced a new strategic alliance with Japan’s Rakuten to expand consumer reach for both firms and enhance how customers are served in both the US and Japan. The collaboration includes the launch of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan beginning in the third quarter of 2018. In addition, Walmart and Rakuten Kobo have formed an exclusive retail partnership that will enable Walmart to begin selling eBooks and audiobooks in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com in the United States starting later this year.