Online retail news in brief (5 September 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.


Instagram developing standalone shopping app

The photo-centric social media channel, Instagram, is developing its own standalone shopping app which will allow users to purchase items directly from the retailers they follow.

Instagram has been experimenting with purchase options via its app for a number of years, first through the use of ‘shoppable adverts’, and secondly through allowing shoppers to purchase directly from merchants in their app (which was launched in the UK back in March). This new innovation will take the latter idea and move it into a dedicated shopping app, rumoured to be called ‘IG Shopping’.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, said in February: ‘Instagram is a business’s visual shop on mobile, and we’re seeing more people seek out businesses there. About two-thirds of the visits to Instagram business profiles are from people who don’t yet follow them. This is how many businesses are finding new customers.’

Plastic bag charge could rise to 10p in all shops

Theresa May has announced that the 5p plastic bag charge is on the verge of doubling in the near future and that all shops will have to adhere to the ruling.

There’s been an 86% decline in the issuing of plastic bags ever since the 5p charge came into effect in October 2015, and the new 10p charge is set to further improve that figure. The government are set to launch a consultation later this year.

On the subject of reducing plastic waste, May said: ‘We have taken huge strides to improve the environment, and the charge on plastic bags in supermarkets and big retailers has demonstrated the difference we can achieve by making small changes to our everyday habits. I want to leave a greener, healthier environment for future generations, but with plastic in the sea still set to treble we know we need to do more to better protect our oceans and eliminate this harmful waste.’

GDPR sparks surge in ecommerce legal queries

Law firms have seen a significant rise in GDPR enquiries from retailers, according to analysis from Howes Percival.

The General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect on 25 May, overhauled the way in which customer data could be handled by companies. Retailers have descended en masse to legal representatives, wishing to learn in particular about the terms and conditions associated with sales.

Miles Barnes, Corporate and Commercial Solicitor, Howes Percival: ‘Terms and conditions of sale are often seen as a necessity rather than something that actually adds value to a business, but this couldn't be further from the truth. A company's terms and conditions are the legal basis on which all of their products are sold and can make all the difference between a business that has clear processes and protections and one that's constantly fighting fires.’

Amazon’s market value tops $1tn

Amazon have become the second company ever to be worth more than $1trillion, only a month after Apple first broke the barrier.

On the morning of 4th September, Amazon’s shares were briefly trading at $2050.50, causing the company to reach into the valuation of more than $1tn, before slipping back shortly after. As of this writing, Amazon’s market cap is $993.02bn, hovering just below the trillion milestone, with shares trading at $2,035.00.

The news appears to solidify the chief executive of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, as the world’s richest man, with a net worth of more than $160bn.

‘Generation rent’ spending on home status symbols instead of homes

The current generation of young adults seeking to purchase their own homes has become a generation of renters, according to eBay UK, preferring to purchase ornate homeware and high-end home comforts rather than invest in housing.

New data from eBay has shown a 69% year-on-year increase in searches for plant stands, while terrariums have experienced a 229% YoY surge. Further to this, copper pans have seen a dramatic boost, with search figures up 1720%. All this points towards a collective wanting to spruce their rental homes with a dash of elegance, rather than settle onto the property ladder.

Rob Hattrell, UK Vice President of eBay, puts the influx down to influencers on Instagram: ‘When it comes to shopping trends, if it’s happening in Britain, we’ll see it happening on eBay. We’re seeking smaller, more distinctive and unusual homewares that we can readily pack up and take with us when we decide to move on.  We’re increasingly finding inspiration for our homes on the go, or from browsing Instagram or Pinterest – with a high percentage of sales on mobile. Our data marks a sea change in the way British customers are shopping for their homes today.’

Charity giraffe used as battering ram in burglary

A model giraffe named Dotty, which had been crafted as a symbol of selflessness to raise money for St Richard’s Hospice, abetted a burglary this week.

Dots, who had been minding her business as one of the 69-piece herd of giraffes put up around Worcester as part of a charity walk, was lifted from her spot and launched through the window of a clothing store. A 20-year-old man has since been arrested in connection with the incident.

While the several items of clothing which were lifted from the store have yet to be recovered, it’s clear that anyone using a clay African native as a battering ram and expecting to get away with it must be having a giraffe.

Charity giraffe

Giraffeted into crime

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