Digital is key to retail's survival

Online sales grew 11.2 per cent, showing a strong digital platform is essential, says James Parsons of Arrows Group Global
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A strong digital platform is essential for retailers to survive, according to James Parsons, CEO and founder of Arrows Group Global.

Responding to recent sales figures from KPMG that found online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 11.2 per cent in July versus a year earlier, Parsons stated that “Creating a digital presence is not just an optional extra; it is essential for long term survivability."

KPMG has also found that over the 3 months to July, online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 11.1 per cent year-on-year. Over the same period, store sales fell, falling 1.0 per cent on a total basis and 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. The pace of decline in store sales has slowed this month, but growth remains firmly in negative territory.

With that knowledge, Parsons suggests that "retailers need an innovative culture that creates an environment that will bring about the most effective solutions".

In order to maximise their profits, retailers will need to create compelling online experiences and in order to do that Parsons argues that recruiting the right employees is essential. "The difficulty for retailers is that their digital offering is entirely dependent on the talent available," he states, going on to say that "retailers are having to compete for digital talent against some of the most famous technology companies in the world".

James Parsons continues: “There are several positive steps that retailers can take to improve their employer brand. First and foremost is it vital that retailers understand the talent market’s perception of their brand, particularly in relation to competitors. Then retailers can begin to create a hiring proposition that positively targets and influences the desired talent.

"Maximising the employee value proposition is a vital part of any digital transformation process, as being able to attract suitable talent will give retailers the expertise they need to navigate the new realities of retailing.”

Another factor that is detremental to retailers is the recently emerged news that in-store spend on loss prevention has increased by 77 per cent in the last year.

A survey carried out by Retail Knowledge has found that the figure for store prevention spend has increased dramatically from last year when it was 0.6 per cent of sales, to 1.06 per cent this year.

That retailers are having to spend more on loss-prevention would indicate that the type of innovation suggested by Parsons might help to make up for the loss in revenue. 

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