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Issues with showroom stores

US department store chain Nordstrom is to open its first Nordstrom Local variant, which will act as a showroom where customers can buy a drink and relax but cannot take home any clothes. Instead they have to order them and wait for their chosen items to be delivered to their homes. This follows the strategy […]

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Subscription services are all about the churn

  Subscription services seem to have been flavour of the month for a long time as the number of product categories where customers can receive regular deliveries of products to their homes has grown exponentially. Recent research from Zuora has shown that 89% of UK adults now subscribe to such services. That’s a sizeable 58 […]

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Satisfying demand for instant gratification

Much has been made of the desire by younger consumers for immediate gratification and retailers are increasingly developing solutions that satisfy this impatience among a growing percentage of the buying public. This phenomenon has fuelled growth in vending machines, with new solutions hitting the market that offer a range of goods that take us well […]

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Next needs to avoid Kodak comparison

  Next has been a powerhouse of an online business with its Directory operation an early leader in selling clothing over the internet but things are grinding to something of a halt. In a fairly damning research note Berenberg recently warned rather colourfully that Next is running the risk of suffering the same fate as […]

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Big fashion brands can learn a lot from upstarts

For Louis Vuitton the recent collaboration with US-based streetwear brand Supreme to produce a one-off range of goods must have been bittersweet. On the sweet side the tie-up, which saw the two sell through pop-up stores in London, Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney, LA and Seoul, created a massive demand for the collection. Thousands of customers […]

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Voice-enabled technology finds its voice

The most natural way of communicating is through voice so it is hardly a surprise that there is growing interest in the use of voice-enabled technology for shopping. The recent ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations Top 50’ report listed Amazon’s voice-enabled Alexa solution as the number one retail innovation for the second year running. This […]

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Securing the future with vertical integration

Sheep, python, alligator and crocodile farms have all been on the shopping lists of the world’s foremost luxury brands in recent years as the trend for vertical integration continues to gain prominence within the retail industry. Ermenegildo Zegna purchased a stake in a sheep station in Australia renowned for its Merino wool, Gucci bought a […]

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Recognising benefits of Direct to consumer

One of the things US craft brewers find particularly surprising about their UK-based counterparts is that the latter sell very little of their beer direct to the consumer. In the US many brewers sell pretty much all of their output through their own on-site tap rooms for consumption on the premises or for take-away, whereas […]

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Stores need to be constantly reinvented

Fast fashion is built around consumer appetite for a never ending stream of new products, which is to some extent fuelled by digital, and it is this that is also driving a mind-set of needing constant change in all things. This is manifesting itself in the way physical retail space needs to be increasingly dynamic. […]

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Shoppers’ continued need for speed

Even before any customers had actually been allowed into the first Amazon Go store in Seattle a whirlwind of publicity had been created, which forecast the advent of real frictionless shopping. Commentators loved the idea of people simply walking out of the store with their goods and their bank account being automatically debited for the […]

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Humans and robots or humans versus robots?

For technology-focused individuals in the world of retail there really is no escape from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It is increasingly being applied to the likes of chatbots, which aim to imitate a human interaction with customers. This is pretty hot stuff right now. The ability to use this clever technology to engage […]

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UK’s serious thirst for alcohol online

Despite the continued reduction in alcohol consumption in the UK (yes, it’s true, and it’s partly driven by Millennials’ lessened thirst for booze) the country is a leader in terms of sales made online – having the highest level among European consumers. Recent research from Profitero shows that 21% of consumers in the UK have […]

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Differentiation is real definition of success

It is somewhat ironic that in the early days of the internet fashion was regarded as one of the categories that were not expected to make the move online. Apparently shoppers were too wedded to the idea of touching, feeling, and trying on goods. Or so the theory went. Try telling that to the clothing […]

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Polarisation of shopping malls continues

Shopping mall operators in the US are proving an interesting investment opportunity for some of the country’s hedge funds who see them as worthy of their attention. But don’t think this is because they view them as growth stories whose values will increase. It is the complete opposite. They are placing bets on expectations that […]

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Budget 2017 – far from a multi-channel affair

On budget day this week Alex Baldock, CEO of Shop Direct, gave a super presentation at Retail Week Live on the beauty of operating as a pure play retailer unencumbered by the hassle of operating high street shops. He did not refer to business rates specifically but there is no doubt that they are proving […]

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Short term pain for long term gain

For the first time in a decade H&M has made changes to the guidance it gives investors on its expectations for future performance. It is to now focus on achieving 10-15% growth in total sales each year rather than on the long established aim of a 10-15% increase in physical store openings each year. This […]

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Marketplaces lose some of their seamless experience

Ebay was a real pioneer when it emerged on the scene in 1995. Not so much because it provided a platform for people to buy and sell goods but because of its ingenious ratings system. It’s clever and very simple self-policing mechanism for buyers and sellers to rate each other was the gem that eBay […]

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The high value of simplicity

If I had a pound for every time I’d heard businesses talk about simplifying their customers’ experience! Well, if they had managed to deliver on this not-so-straightforward objective then they would have been able to grab more than a few quid. Apparently, a slice of a massive $86billion would have been up for grabs. That […]

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Move over coffee, tea is back in town

We all know you cannot walk along a high street or venture into a shopping centre without tripping over branded coffee bars. And just when you thought we must be close to reaching saturation point, think again. The UK branded coffee shop segment is set to reach to 9,400 outlets and hit £6 billion of […]

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Dunelm makes serious digital play

The CEO of home-wares retailer Dunelm Group, John Browett, certainly has plenty of digital credibility – dating back to his days running the online business of Tesco in 1999 and then on to turning around the troubled Dixons business as it grappled with, and then embraced, the internet. His ease playing across multiple channels was […]

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Sleepy mattress market wakes up

Mattresses are an odd thing. Living in a relatively urban location in north London discarded mattresses are a regular sight on street corners, which has always seemed rather strange. My household does not go through them at quite the same cracking rate as others. Whatever the circumstances behind this apparent rapid turnover in mattresses – […]

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Love them or loathe them, retailers can’t live without stores

Talk about a polarised view – the physical store seems to either be a millstone around the neck of some retailers whereas for others with a predominantly online presence there is desperation to get some exposure to good old bricks and mortar. Amazon seems to be on the cusp of opening convenience stores – up […]

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Changing living styles impacting on retail sector

If I told you that luxury house builders are beginning to reduce the size of the rooms in some of their latest developments in London you might think so what? But this move is indicative of the change in the way a growing number of people are living and as a result retailers should take […]

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Bargain stores – low prices, big ambitions

As B&M casts its eye over the former BHS stores, with a view to further growing its presence in the UK, it highlights how the bargain stores are taking an ever greater slice of shoppers’ cash at the expense of others in the retail sector. According to Nielsen, British shoppers spent nearly £5 billion at […]

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Landlords hungry for independents

Who has heard of The Fine Cheese Co.? Now, I’m betting that if you don’t live in Bath or London’s smart Belgravia then it is unlikely you will have come across this retailer. And that is probably just the way the landlord of its shop in the capital likes it. How about Traders or Pavilion […]

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Primark and Asos moving to the ideal retail model. Or not?

Asos, Boohoo, Missguided, and Shop Direct are just a few of the online-only fashion retailers that are continuing to deliver outsized like-for-like sales increases. Leader of the pack Asos delivered a leap in sales of 30% for the four months to June compared with the same period last year and Boohoo’s recent numbers have been […]

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Threat to retailers from brands selling direct-to-consumer moves up a notch

Everybody reading this will have heard of Unilever but probably fewer people will know of Dollar Shave Club (DSC) in the US. Well, the big news from across the Atlantic was that the former has just bought the latter for $1 billion. So what, you might ask. Well, the ramifications could be enormous for not […]

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More intelligent returns management needed

Margins on online sales are of significant concern to retailers because compared with selling via stores the delivery of goods to the home and via Click & Collect are somewhat slimmer. Profitability via non-store channels is a sensitive and problematic issue and one of the key components of this are returns, which are the bane […]

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Time to introduce new metrics in-store

As the customer experience in-store becomes so much more than just about flogging goods to anybody who crosses the threshold there is a need for different ways of measuring performance. Retailers are now starting to incorporate much more technology in-store including tablets and smarter Point-of-Sale devices for rich ‘clientelling’ activity that can massively enhance the […]

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Technology must be used intelligently for personalisation

Since technology has traditionally been used to drive efficiency gains in businesses it is not surprising that it has been given the task of personalising the online experience customers receive – whether that is through tailored landing pages or the delivery of more bespoke search results. But great care has to be taken because relying […]

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Take a leaf out of Inditex playbook with RFID

Inditex has long led the race for efficiency in the supply chain, with its Zara fashion chain the global exemplar in managing stock, and one of the key tools in its armoury is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Whereas most other retailers have not bothered utilising the technology there is a growing acknowledgment that as the […]

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Amazon trying fashion for size

Amazon is undoubtedly a threat to all parts of the retail industry. Whichever part of the sector it turns its gaze on will inevitably come under pressure and right now it has fashion firmly in its sights. To this end it has invested in an extensive photo studio and appointed fashion writing specialists that have […]

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Poundland – breaking through the pound barrier

99p stores never had quite the same pedigree as Poundland so when the latter bought its cheaper-priced rival it was always going to be a tough task to bring things up to the required retailing standards. One of the achievements of the present management – led by the outgoing CEO Jim McCarthy – has been […]

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We know about the Millennials but what about the seniors

All the talk is of the Millennials and how they are the group that every company has to attract. Yes, it is fair to say, they are the future and that retailers’ longevity will be inextricably linked to doing business with them – now, or in the future at some point when they mature. But […]

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Fighting for digital expertise

Employment in the retail sector has been in the news over the past few weeks with the headlines highlighting the dramatic forecast that one million jobs will be lost from the industry by 2025. Whatever the ultimate figure, there is clearly going to be some big changes taking place – with the big driver digital. […]

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Social media sceptics need to revisit their thinking

Retailers continue to grapple with social media. For every organisation that regards it as a distraction, there is one that fully embraces it and uses it as a key tool for engaging with customers. The former camp will argue that it is it is difficult to put forward a business case for committing serious resources […]

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Small independent retailers need to embrace digital

Everybody likes Independent shops. Even those people who never cross the threshold of such businesses would undoubtedly say they are great fans of them if ever questioned in a survey about their shopping habits. What this says about surveys is that they have to be treated with a little dose of scepticism – some more […]

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Time to think about artificial intelligence

Retail’s Big Show (organised by the National Retail Federation), aka NRF, in New York City each January is the big opportunity for IT suppliers from around the world to showcase their latest retail technologies. Most are simply the latest iterations of existing solutions and as such there are never many genuinely radical things on show […]

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Complex issue of returns perplexing for fashion retailers

Reducing returns is an objective of every online fashion retailer and as the level of returned items is expected to outpace the growth in online sales the problem looks set to grow. But it would be a mistake to reduce returns at all costs as this would undoubtedly lose a retailer sales volumes. The fact […]

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Food retailers ignore Millennials at your peril

Millennials are certainly a demographic grouping that secures its fair share of discussion in the retail industry as this 18 to 34-year-old age group has long been seen as attractive – based on their disposable income levels and the potential for merchants to grab them as future long-term loyal customers. Despite recognising their value, it […]

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Death by a thousand cuts for Daily Deals sites

Daily Deals websites have been a feature of online retail for some years. Pioneered by Groupon in the US this area quickly grew into a red hot part of the market as a host of me-too propositions appeared and wooed shoppers with this new way of buying. But it has gradually died a slow death. […]

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Amazon developing new era of store retailing via Seattle book shop

Amazon recently opened a small book store in Seattle that taken at face value provides further evidence that the good old physical book store has plenty of life left in it yet, despite the havoc the behemoth itself has wreaked on the category over the last decade-and-a-half. Or does it? The likelihood of Amazon going […]

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Small is increasingly beautiful for UK shoppers

Asda recently announced it was to slow the pace of its openings in London and Sainsbury’s meanwhile stated that it was, in sharp contrast, to continue to open new units at a cracking rate. We’re talking about convenience stores, which have certainly been in the news of late and the coverage has highlighted how the […]

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Back to the future for loyalty

Loyalty schemes were supposedly dead. The consensus was that they served little purpose when all the focus of shoppers and retailers was firmly on delivering the cheapest possible prices. Nothing was deemed worthy of distracting them from this mission. Such was the downbeat mood music around loyalty programmes that Tesco had its insight division Dunnhumby […]

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Growth of the hound pound

When pet shop chain Pet Pavilion announced it would be selling a non-alcoholic beer for dogs to enjoy when they accompany their owners down the pub then you know there is something happening (however odd) in the pet sector. The brew called Snuffle joined an array of upmarket products the business sells – across its […]

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Consumer demand lures yet more reluctant retailers online

Both Poundland and Aldi have recently announced plans for launches of online stores after much deliberation and questions over whether the channel stacks up financially for value retailers. And Lidl has also been talking of making the plunge. The argument for going online continues to ratchet-up because every bit of research you care to read […]

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If only pure-plays had stores

Hardly a week goes by without some news of a pure-play about to open a physical store or rumours circlulating that a big-gun of the online world is investigating joining the multi-channel fraternity through adding bricks and mortar. This has been particularly prevalent in fashion and the reason is because the online-only guys have significantly […]

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Pop-ups now a permanent retail fixture

When pop-ups first appeared on the retail landscape they seemed to have more than a whiff of short-term fad about them. They looked to be a very temporary solution to fill the numerous empty shop spaces that had become features across the UK’s high streets in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. Brands […]

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Made.com looks to make its multi-channel mark

It is not exactly a small time aspiration to become a pan-European rival to global behemoth IKEA but this is the aim of Made.com as it says it is targeting former customers of the flat-pack and meatball specialist. The raising of £38 million last week will have done its cause no harm at all as […]

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Retailers begin to admit the true cost of click & collect

Avoiding cliches is a major rule in journalism but I’m forgetting that now because the recent decision by John Lewis to impose a £2 charge on click & collect orders just has to be described as throwing the cat among the pigeons. The reality is that for most retailers fulfilling online orders – in a […]

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Can we hope for mid-paced fashion?

We’ve all heard of fast fashion but what about slow fashion? It’s an emerging trend that looks to reduce waste through encouraging fewer purchases of clothing, drive greater use of environment-friendly materials, and promote an embracing of ethical sourcing practices. Slow fashion involves a more pedestrian supply chain hence the name. This ultimately means it […]

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Even mighty IKEA recognises the winds of change

In only the past couple of months there has been a stream of announcements from IKEA that all contribute to what it has been describing as its ‘transformational agenda’. It announced the opening of its smallest retail location so far – in Canada, it opened a pop-up breakfast-in-bed cafe in East London where beds could […]

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Big book catalogues reach final chapter

Even very recently catalogues were seen as integral to the likes of Shop Direct, N. Brown and Argos – with millions of them distributed each year. But the acceleration of online sales has dramatically reduced these retailers’ reliance on paper-based catalogues over the past few years. Such has been the extent of the internet’s impact […]

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Poundland looking for certainty with 99p Stores purchase

There are few certainties in business and the retail sector specifically operates in an environment where there are now ever fewer guarantees. Where once growth was driven by simply adding physical stores, today’s digital world means things are a lot more complicated. What might have been regarded as a rare certainty was a green light […]

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Viewpoint – Transformational month for fashion retail

If there was ever a sign that the world of online fashion has grown up it came this past month with luxury fashion retailers Yoox and Net-A-Porter announcing their merger. There is no other way of describing this bit of corporate activity other than transformational. Not only for the parties directly involved but also for […]

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Viewpoint – Keep changing the proposition to stay relevant

Pret A Manger is a pretty successful business as evidenced by its recent results that showed it enjoying strong sales growth of 16% for 2014 – it has been in the double-digits annually for some years. But like any decent business the company continues to challenge itself in order that it does not go stale […]

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Viewpoint – Dragging furniture into the digital era

  Furniture is bulky, it’s not a particularly frequent purchase, and arguably such high value items require a bit of touching-and-feeling before customers commit to making a purchase.   This suggests the category is not particularly well suited to online transactions. Not so it seems as there has certainly been some action in this area […]

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Viewpoint – Easter puts spring into step of garden centres

  Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Easter is almost upon us and the big action in the retail sector is without doubt happening in the gardening sector. Apparently we […]

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Viewpoint – Innovations in ubiquitous click & collect

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Innovations in ubiquitous click & collect Everybody has to offer a delivery option nowadays it seems. Before the internet hit the retail scene home […]

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Viewpoint – Raise a glass to successful beer retailers

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Raise a glass to successful beer retailers As painful as it is to see that beer sales in my beloved pub industry have been […]

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Value retailers’ popularity now perennial

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Value retailers’ popularity now perennial A few years back at the start of the recession Sir Terry Leahy suggested the discount retailers were enjoying […]

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Viewpoint – Not the end of the story for high street book shops

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Not the end of the story for high street book shops The resurgence in supposedly dying categories on the high street continues. In the […]

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Many more anniversaries expected for greetings card stores

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. For something as simple as a bit of folded card with an image on the front and some words inside, greetings cards have looked […]

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Viewpoint – Logistics escaping its volume trap

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Logistics escaping its volume trap Logistics is so much about volumes – as City Link knows all too well. Yet many firms will try […]

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Viewpoint – Travel retail going places

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Travel retail going places It does not seem too long ago that stations and airports provided among the worst retail experiences for shoppers – […]

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Viewpoint – Forget sales per square foot, the future is about dwell time

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Retail was oh so simple in the days when stores were all about driving sales per square foot. Today it is increasingly shifting to […]

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Viewpoint – Retailers must answer the ‘why buy?’ question

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Retailers must answer the ‘why buy?’ question Retail is not only undergoing a digital revolution – with sales moving from physical stores to online […]

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Viewpoint – Biting the store bullet is only one of the property challenges

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Biting the store bullet is only one of the property challenges DIY is among the categories with the lowest level of sales derived […]

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Viewpoint – Massive opportunity for Luxury fashion online + Phones 4U demise inevitable

Retail Insider and K3 bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Do you remember when luxury goods and fashion would never sell online? It is not that long ago that conventional wisdom (whoever or whatever […]

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Viewpoint – hypermarkets wither and coffee shops explode

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you the first in a new monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. What role the hypermarket overseas? The woes of Tesco have certainly been well aired over recent months and the […]

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