Online retail news in brief (21 March 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.

Misleading returns information rife, Which? claims

Consumer group Which? claims that 45 of 46 retail websites it examined offered misleading or incorrect returns information.

According to the group, all but one of the companies stated returns policies that contradicted customer rights, such as refusing returns for unwanted items, or offering different returns policies for different items to which the same rule should apply.

Dealing with returns will be one of the main themes debated at our Logistics Summit on 23 May.

Online Marketplaces now accountable for sellers’ tax fraud

New HMRC rules have now come into effect, which hold marketplaces responsible for online sellers’ correct payment of VAT.

In the cases in which a seller is not paying correctly, HMRC will issue a notice to the marketplace, who will then have to remove the seller or face pursuit by the tax authorities.

HMRC has estimated that the new rules will protect £1bn of tax revenue by 2023.

Drunk shoppers spend £4.46bn

Over half of regular drinkers admit to making impulse purchases while under the influence. Research by price comparison site Finder found that 45.8% of 2,000 surveyed drinkers had made a drunk purchase, and that the average spend was £291.07. The extrapolated figure suggests that that represents £4.46bn of drunken spend.

Man holding drink and mobile phone


It comes as no surprise that food was the single most popular boozy purchase category, with 22.87% of respondents having bought it drunk. Shoes, clothes, and accessories represented 13.8% of purchases by intoxicated shoppers.

Research: £4bn West End turnover boost from Elizabeth Line

Arup, The New West End Company, The Fitzrovia Partnership, and Heart of London Business Alliance estimate that the Elizabeth Line will bring 70 million extra visitors to the West End in the three years after the line opens.

Turnover for West End retailers is expected to hit £13bn as a result, up from the £9bn of 2017. By 2021, the companies suggest that daily turnover by 2021 in the West End will see £31m in daily turnover.

Snapchat UK ad revenue expected to exceed £100m in 2018

eMarketer has predicted that Snapchat’s revenue from advertising in the UK will almost double from 2017, set to reach £105m in 2018.

Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst: “Snapchat continues to pull in users and, by extension, ad revenues. An almost doubling of revenues in 2018 is a great result. But while the user base continues to be dominated by younger age groups, that revenue potential will remain somewhat restricted. And with the financial muscle of Facebook behind close-competitor Instagram, Snap’s going to have to work ever harder for those ad dollars.”

Cyborg tries new omnichannel payment, gets fined for it

It seems yet again the law may have some catching up to do.

An Australian man by the name Meow Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow has run in to trouble with Sydney Trains by using a subcutaneous travelcard chip.

The self-identified cyborg implanted the chip from his travel card under his skin, used it to board a train, but was fined for fare dodging for failing to produce a valid ticket, despite card reader scans showing he had correctly tapped in using his implant.

Is he an omnichannel pioneer, victim of an officious jobsworth, or is this cyborg just a fringe eccentric? Our readers will no doubt decide for themselves.

Entrepreneur joins brain-upload waiting list

Sam Altman, founder of business incubator Y Combinator, has placed his name on the waiting list for a consciousness upload from Nectome.

Nectome offers customers the chance to preserve their brains and, in future, upload their consciousness to the cloud, in a process which the company promises is ‘100% fatal’.

Current technology does not allow upload of consciousness, but Nectome expects that the necessary advances will come within 50 years.

Only 5 US states currently allow physician-assisted suicide, and only with a terminal diagnosis and a prognosis of six months to live.


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