Online retail news in brief (14 February 2018)


Image of bricks and mortar store in decline by online retail

In case you missed them, we’ve pulled together a few online retail news highlights from around the web this week.

Here are some of the latest stories in online retail.

Bricks and mortar fashion suffering

Accountancy firm Moore Stephens has suggested that 19% of clothing stores are showing early indications of financial peril.

The signs include ‘poor payment history’, and ‘large falls in revenue’, which drive up prices or shrink profit margins.

The firm cited competition from online-only retailers as a major factor behind the difficulties.

For a look at the latest data on fashion retailers’ performance, and discussion of ‘multichannel vs pureplay, register for Fashion Connect 2018.

Selfridges opens in-store boxing gym

Selfridges Oxford Street has opened the world’s first department-store based boxing gym. The facility is a collaboration with BXR, Anthony Joshua’s boutique boxing club.

Customers can make use of 20 punching bags, and a boxing ring to book group classes.

The BXR residency is part of Selfidges’s ‘Lamyland’ part of the store’s ‘Radical Luxury’ programme, and lasts from 1-25 February.

Sports Direct buys into Game esports

Sports Direct is set to buy half of Game’s eports division ‘Belong’ in a £3.2m deal. The plans include rolling out Game concessions and competitive esports arenas in Sports Direct stores.

Banner to join IMRG Fashion Connect Conference

Game chief executive Maryn Gibbs: “As more consumer focus and spend moves to experiences, we are well advanced in delivering unique, world-class gaming at both local and national level. Having launched the Belong brand just over a year ago, we have now opened 19 arenas and are very encouraged by the popularity and performance of these locations.”

Facebook use in decline among the young?

Research by eMarketer has found that younger generations of social media users may be less inclined to use Facebook.

The study found that 83% of 18-24 year old social media users were on Facebook, but that the figure is expected to fall to 81.5% in 2021.

Facebook is in the online retail news today

Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer: “Facebook has a teen problem. This latest forecast indicates that it’s more than a theory. And whereas it’s been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram, there are now some early signs that younger social networkers are being swayed by Snapchat. The challenge and opportunity for Snap is how to appeal beyond that core youth demographic.”

Feeling the pain of returns

US outdoor retailer L.L. Bean has scaled back its famous unlimited returns policy, after 106 years.

The chain is famous for its 100% satisfaction guarantee policy, which included a policy that allowed customers to return their purchases at any time, for any reason. Now, the increasing profile of the policy in the age of social media has hurt the company’s margins.

There have been increasing instances of returners abusing the policy, bringing back very old, unusable products, which they may not have purchased in the first place.

L.L. Bean is now operating a 1-year returns policy, with proof of purchase.

61% of UK online customers shop cross-border

UPS Europe’s Pulse of the Online Shopper report has found that 61% of online shoppers in the UK have bought internationally. Of those, 69% bought from a retailer outside of Europe, and 59% from a retailer in Europe.

The most common priority for those shoppers is payment security, with 75% stating that it was one of their primary concerns.

  • 72% want a clear statement of total cost, including duties, fees, and shipping
  • 63% expected a clear returns policy
  • 63% require prices stated in their home currency

Robot dogs open doors

Boston Dynamics has released footage of a ‘robot dog’, a quadruped robot capable of opening doors.

The video shows one robot, with a dextrous arm on its ‘head’, opening a door for another to walk through.

Eliot Higgins, a visiting research associate at Kings College London, tweeted the video as ‘The latest update from our future robot overlords.’


Bitcoin hinders search for aliens

Alien-hunting body SETI has complained that the demand for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has placed such demand for Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) that they are unable to get hold of the latest hardware. SETI wishes to expand its operations to a second observatory, but has found that Bitcoin data miners have snapped up all of the latest GPUs.

Dr Dan Werthimer, SETI: "That's limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?' This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of months."


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