Online retail news in brief (27 June 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.


MPs to investigate environmental impact of fast fashion

The quick-moving, bulk manufacturing movement in the clothing industry known as ‘fast fashion’ has entered the limelight in infamy this week.

The process, which retailers use to keep up with the pace of change in fashion, is already somewhat renowned for its pollutant nature, and it’s this which has brought it to the attention of the government.

A parliamentary inquiry has been commissioned, which is set to look into carbon, resource use, and water footprint of clothing throughout its life cycle.

Mary Creagh MP: ‘Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact. Our inquiry will look at how the fashion industry can remodel itself to be both thriving and sustainable.’

Government has had a renewed focus on sustainability and waste in the retail sector following the airing of the Blue Planet II series in December 2017.

Alibaba opens un-staffed wine store

The gap between science-fiction and reality closed another inch this week, after machines took their first autonomous steps into the wine industry.

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has unveiled plans for a fully-automated wine store, where purchases will be made via facial recognition, and customer service will be unreservedly mechanical.

The move is part of the company’s technology development programme, committed to technological advancement in a variety of sectors, to which the company have committed some $15bn.

New measures brought in to tackle fake reviews

The falsity of some customer reviews in online retail has been tackled head-on this week.

With an influential reach of £23bn, product reviews have a seismic leverage in purchasing habits. However, the Competition Markets Authority has raised concerns over the validity of these potential driving forces, and the BSI has responded in kind: by publishing a new standard requiring review-posters to verify they’re genuine customers.

David Fatscher, BSI Head of Sustainability: ‘At their best, online reviews empower consumers and suppliers and allow the sharing of genuine information and experiences. At their worst, reviews can be false, and spread misinformation among consumers. This guidance strikes the right balance between verifying the authenticity of a review whilst respecting the reviewer’s right to privacy’.

‘Serial returners’ cost retailers £7bn

Returning products is an expensive part of retail, according to research conducted by Barclaycard, as almost half of all online shopping is returned by the average British shopper.

While this has created a black hole for retailers amounting to the region of £7bn, many see free returns as a major driver of customer satisfaction, and are looking to repair their losses in other departments.

For most, it’s a case of building their towers higher to escape the flood: hiking product prices in compensation, and trying not to look down. However, Barclaycard’s Konrad Kelling says a failure to properly address the issue will ‘be another problem that adds to the woes some high street retailers currently face’.

Survey reveals 47% of UK shoppers purchase gift cards for self-use

A first-of-its-kind study in the UK has uncovered a middleman in the customer journey: the gift card.

Research conducted by Zeek Mobile has discovered that almost half of British customers invest in gift cards for self-use owing to the benefits they can provide. Millennials are leading the charge, with the employment of gift cards being attributed to convenience, the reception of a discount, and to help budget shopping.

Daniel Zelkind, CEO, Zeek Mobile: ‘It’s time to rethink what gift cards are and what they can do for the retail sector. As consumer self-use use cases continue to increase, they offer a win-win for shopper and retailer alike. We are seeing a similar trend on our own platform. Over 90% of our customers purchase gift cards for self-use, which has led us to reimagine them as retail currency.’

Akon to build new city in Senegal with own currency called AKoin

Akon has submitted his entry to the international pun championships through the naming of his new cryptocurrency: AKoin.

The ‘Smack That’ singer turned self-dubbed ‘Saviour of Africa’ is planning on using his new currency to establish a utopian city in Senegal, intended to be an epicentral hub of technology akin to the fictional city of Wakanda from the Marvel Universe. 2,000 square acres of land has already been gifted to the project by Senegalese President Macky Sall.

Any US residents fearing the loss of a national ikon to exotic seas need have no fear, however, as in the same breath of the announcement, Akon put his name forward as a potential US presidential candidate in 2020.

Akon singing


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