Online retail news in brief (17 October 2018)


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.


Asos launches voice shopping

Retail technology took another leap this week, after Asos allowed their products to be browsed through the use of voice.

The voice shopping is enabled by Google Assistant, and customers in the UK and US can now access Asos’ wares simply by beginning a conversation with the Home smart speaker with the phrase, ‘hey Google, talk to Asos’.

Jonny Pennington, Head of SEO at Visualsoft has commented on the move: ‘Voice search may feel unnatural at first, but ecommerce was the same way in its formative years – businesses that opted not to sell online subsequently spent years playing catch-up, and the same could be true for voice commerce. Voice commerce could particularly benefit local, high street retailers that are not bound by the strict tone-of-voice guidelines which restrict the messaging of larger corporates. It may also be a lifeline for retail brands looking to survive, innovate and grow amidst a volatile retail landscape.’

Contactless payments more popular than ever before

For the first time ever, contactless payments have become more favoured than chip-and-PIN in the UK.

The figures come from Worldpay, which claims that the switchover came in June of this year, when contactless payments accounted for 51% of in-store transactions. The number rose to 52% in July.

Further to this, the usage of contactless has jumped 30% since June 2017.

Steve Newton, Executive Vice President, Worldpay: ‘The rise of contactless is part of a bigger story: it’s not simply about tap and go – it’s about convenience and reducing the parts of the shopping experience that customers find irritating, like queuing and waiting to pay.’

Amazon to open fashion pop-up

Amazon is dipping its toes into the waters of high street fashion later this month, with a temporary fashion pop-up on Baker Street in London.

The pop-up will run from 23-27 October and will change its range of both men’s and women’s items every other day. The store has a number of events planned, including a DJ set as well as a beauty-oriented panel discussion.

Susan Saideman, Fashion Vice President for Europe, Amazon: ‘We are extremely excited to be opening our first ever UK pop-up store for fashion. We have curated a selection of top brands and key fashion items, which we think our customers will love, all of which can be purchased virtually through the Amazon app or physically in store. With the ongoing schedule of activities taking place throughout the week, we hope our pop-up shop will be an exciting and inspiring way to shop for fashion.’

John Lewis launches after-hours private shopping service

John Lewis is to offer a deluxe experience to its affluent clientele in Cheltenham: private access to the entire store.

The private shopping service, allowing customers to browse the store unhindered by other shoppers, will be available to those looking to spend £10,000 or more. The initiative is one of 20 new services now available at the Cheltenham store, with other including concierges booking blow-drys and manicures, and sales assistants acting as personal shoppers.

Peter Cross, Director of Customer Experience, John Lewis: ‘Previously the reserve of exclusive boutiques for the famous few, this autumn in Cheltenham, with the help of our army of expertly trained partners, we are bringing the intimacy, luxury and magic of personal shopping to the high street.’

UK retailers get 30% ‘Golden Week’ sales boost

The annual Chinese holiday ‘Golden Week’, which gives Chinese workers paid leave and sees a tremendous upsurge in travel, saw UK retailers gain a 30% boost to their sales transactions from Chinese payment methods.

This is according to payment platform Adyen, which analysed its own transactions data from 1-7 October. The research also found a 25% lift in payments from QR code-based digital wallets Alipay and WeChat Pay.

On ensuring international payment methods, Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director at Adyen had this to say: ‘We know that European retailers are losing more than £400 million in sales each year by not offering customers their preferred payment methods – if you factor in international tourists, the opportunity lost is even greater.’ Providing alternative payment methods ‘provides [internationals] with a more familiar and frictionless payments experience, as well as enabling them to get a much better exchange rate and means they don’t have to carry lots of cash around with them.’

Googly eye bandit on the loose

A very serious and not-at-all funny crime occurred this week in the US city of Savannah: somebody stuck googly eyes to a sculpture.

The relief of Nathanael Greene, A Revolutionary War general onto which the eyes were stuck, looks thoroughly dumbfounded at the nerve some people have these days, as a result of his newly added adornments.

Local authorities have seen the heinous attack as a severe blight on American history, while the police have assured the public that the scoundrel will be feeling the whip-crack of the law before too long for treading on heritage.

The googly eye bandit is still at large. While police haven’t issued a composite sketch of the criminal as of yet, citizens should be on the lookout for anyone who looks like they have the capacity to spend a dollar in a stationery store.

Googly eyed statue

An eye-opening crime

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