How are the retailers faring in 2018 so far?
Amazon is having a pretty good week. It announced quarterly profits of nearly $2 billion and was named the world’s most valuable brand by Brand Finance, knocking last year’s victor Google back into third place. In research done by Retail Week, 52% of Americans named Amazon as their favourite online retailer, with Walmart, eBay and Wish following in that order. Alibaba is also celebrating this week as they saw revenues grow 56% year on year in the last quarter
However, for a lot of other retailers, the picture isn’t looking so rosy, with Morrisons, Tesco, and B&Q all announcing job losses in the past week and M&S looking at closing unprofitable stores. So what does this mean for the future retail landscape? In The Drum, Tom Goodwin argues that we are seeing an age where the “entire role of stores is diminished, but the trust and meaning in the product brand is stronger than ever. If you are a retailer you need to rebuild your place in the world fast.” Consumers are less attached to the way they buy a product, and much more focussed on the product itself. As retailers try to find their place as consumer behaviour shifts, we will see retail divide in to the “easy and fast” and the “extreme fun and fancy” which we are seeing already with Zara opening its first Click and Collect store, with the simultaneous development of flagship stores as real experience driven spaces.
Another trend hitting the retailers is the increasing popularity of direct-to-consumer possibilities – Unilever and Mars both announced last year that they signed up to a new digital shopping service which will allow them to sell their brands direct to consumers. However, this trend is not only being capitalised on by the multi-nationals, smaller brands are increasingly seeing them as a viable alternative to the big retailers because as Kara Goldin argues, the “supermarket model is not welcoming to smaller brands” who don’t see the value of entering long and difficult negotiations and who are unwilling to loose control of their direct communication with consumers.
So far 2018 has been a mixed bag for retailers, as the etailers thrive and others struggle. What is for certain is the pace of change is not slowing. Who knows where we will be by the end of 2018?
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