Retail Roundup: Selfridges invests £40m in digital offering; Radley banks on personalisation to boost international e-commerce; and why supermarkets need to stop emulating Aldi to succeed

The Drum reporter Jennifer Faull provides news and insight on the latest developments in retail. Follow Jen on Twitter @jenfaull

This week's retail update, compiled by Natalie Mortimer, takes a look at Selfridges’ plan to “future proof” its digital offering with a £40m investment that has seen the retailer overhaul its website; delves into a new personalisation drive at Radley to boost its e-commerce appeal to international markets; investigates how to combat the loyalty malaise amid supermarket price wars; and investigates why Amazon leaves other retailers in the dust when it comes to personalisation.

Selfridges ploughs £40m into multi-channel offering

Selfridges is on a drive to “future proof” itself with a £40m investment that includes a revamped website, plans for a dedicated app in 2015 and a wider rollout of its click and collect service, in a move that marks the biggest single investment in Selfridges.com since it launched four years ago.

While the full roadmap is yet to be outlined – the retailer will test and feel its way given the rapid pace of change in retail technology – a new fully responsive website was launched today (1 October).

Speaking to The Drum, the brand’s head of digital, Claire Higgins said “The site is integral, but there are also wider projects planned like Wi-Fi in-store – Oxford Street is just about to come - and thinking about how Selfridges’ consumers interact with the brand as well as the international business and how we can localise the offering [over a quarter of visits to Selfridges.com come from outside of the UK.]”

Part of the digital roadmap is also the expansion of its click and collect service, The Wonder Room, which launched in 2013 exclusively with Cartier. The service allows consumers to purchase jewellery and watches online and then pick up via a Cartier concept store.

Other brands are lined up to join the service ahead of Christmas, although Higgins refused to give away details.

However, some 100 new brands have joined its roster to coincide with the site’s launch, including Victoria Beckham, Bruno Cucinelli and Burberry.

Radley banks on personalisation to boost international e-commerce

Handbag and accessories brand Radley is hoping that a plan to tailor its e-commerce offering will help boost its growing international reach.

The retailer has experienced a successful uplift in e-commerce sales since it embarked on a push over two years ago, and is touting the Radley website as an opportunity to expand its portfolio outside a relatively small bricks and mortar offering of 33 stores.

Speaking to The Drum Rowan Luckie, head of e-commerce at the brand, which has recently inked a deal with cloud-based testing and targeting company Monetate, said it is looking to add “the next dimension” to its e-commerce offering.

“We recognise that there is growing demand from overseas markets but we’re still a relatively small team within the business, so in terms of making sure we optimise the resources that we have, we can’t build new websites for every territory. Monetate will help us tailor our content in terms of seeing where customers have come from.”

The recent addition of click and collect has also been successful for the brand, according to Luckie, and has grown to become “a reasonable proportion” of the e-commerce business.

Connecting the online/ offline experience is also becoming a key way to drive consumer loyalty as Radley looks to fuse data gathered both in store and via the website.

Earlier in the year it overhauled its store concept and installed iPad service points to reflect its omnichannel offering.

A retailer that is already employing successful personalisation is e-commerce giant Amazon, with four out of five (82 per cent) UK consumers stating that no company offers the same levels of web-personalisation.

The new 2014 Consumer and Marketer Personalisation Study by big-data marketing company BloomReach, conducted by RedShift Research, highlighted the growing technology gap between the retailing giant and the rest of the e-commerce landscape.

The study, which sampled 1,000 UK consumers and 122 UK online retailers, found that 34 per cent of retailers thought brand reputation was the most important factor when consumers choose a retailer and just 2 percent thought that a personalised shopping experience was an important factor.

However, 31 per cent of consumers said they would be more likely to make purchases if they were offered personalised experiences such as product recommendations or tailored content and 85 per cent said brand reputation was not an important factor.

The ‘big four’ supermarkets must stop discounting and start savvy pricing

Aldi has laughed off attempts by the ‘big four’ and claimed that the ongoing supermarket price wars between Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s has helped it achieve stronger growth this year compared to last year.

In an opinion column for The Drum content director at Critical Mass, George Webster, said that retailers need to look beyond discounting and price smart.

“Today’s shoppers are a notoriously disloyal bunch. And where loyalty does exist, this is increasingly for low-cost in-store experiences. With the proof in the pudding being Aldi’s announcement yesterday that it has recorded a 65 per cent rise in pre-tax profits.”

Research conducted in July showed that, on average, shoppers used over five retailers across three channels each month to meet their grocery shopping needs.

“Curiously, in spite of their overarching objective to raise basket value – be that online, in-store, or over a shopper’s lifetime – it is the supermarkets themselves that are breeding disloyalty through obsessive price matching.”

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