News & Views - Savantor

The online revolution continues

Friday, 09 January 2015
Figures issued by the British Retail Consortium show that online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 7.0% in December compared to a year earlier, with online sales representing 17.0% of total Non-Food sales, against 16.0% in December 2013. It came as little surprise to anyone that online sales continued to show a growth this Christmas period over previous years but what was more unexpected was some of the other trends surrounding this increase. Online sales were particularly fuelled by the 'Black Friday' and 'Cyber Monday' sales push, although it is acknowledged that these promotional events did not necessarily increase overall sales, merely causing the Christmas online shopping rush to start earlier. However, one of the impacts of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions was that many retailers' distribution processes struggled to cope with the demand, resulting in delays in supplying goods to customers and suspension of retailers' normal service levels. This in its turn led to customers being concerned about timely delivery of their Christmas goods - turning to 'Click and Collect' Services instead of waiting for home delivery, to ensure receipt of goods in time for Christmas. In-store sales did not show the same level of increase; however, what has become evident is that the most successful retailers are those who offer and successfully deliver multi-channel shopping and that looking forward, retailers need take these factors into account when defining their growth strategies. What is also interesting is that some of the retail giants are questioning whether next year they will be tempted to discount so heavily so early in the shopping build-up prior to Christmas or whether this proves too disruptive in terms of providing good levels of service. Many retailer websites struggled to cope with the demand during peak demand periods leading to customer frustration. Alongside the use of the internet for shopping comes the use of online social media for customers to vent their dissatisfaction when retailers fail to live up to service level promises! It could be argued that one of the main factors constraining online growth is the retailers themselves, with their systems showing signs of strain at times of peak demand - they need to be able to manage from the initial pre-sale selection process and sale transaction initiation through to its delivery to the customer.
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