May, good month/bad month

May, good month/bad month

Retail Technology Innovation Hub takes a look at the retail technology space during May and rounds up the winners and losers

Good month for… 

DurazChinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has expanded into South Asia by buying e-commerce platform, Daraz Group. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Poundland owned Thameslink on social media, after the rail firm compared its poor service to cooking chocolate sold by the retailer.

PayPal is set to buy Swedish payments provider, iZettle, for $2.2 billion in an all-cash deal.

Walmart’s latest results prove that it is now firmly in the midst of a dramatic transition. “As much as the structural changes are disruptive and, in some cases, profit-eroding, we believe they are necessary in order for Walmart to thrive in a new era of retail,” says Neil Saunders, Managing Director at GlobalData Retail.

Ocado has inked an exclusive deal with Kroger to use its Smart Platform technology for grocery deliveries. The US retailer will take a 5% stake in Ocado as part of the agreement.

PayPal is set to buy Swedish payments provider, iZettle, for $2.2 billion in an all-cash deal.

Jet.com has joined the Apple authorised reseller programme. Further details here.

It’s a major victory for the Walmart-owned retailer over arch rival Amazon, as it can now offer the full range of Apple products. Amazon, meanwhile, carries some devices, but not the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. You can get these from the e-commerce giant but only via third-party companies. In 2015, Amazon decided to pull Apple products that competed with its own streaming media players, although it brought back the Apple TV last year.

European bricks and mortar retailers are better placed to withstand an e-commerce whirlwind than their US counterparts, according to a report by Scope Ratings.

FatFace has announced a recruitment drive as it looks to ramp up its e-commerce strategy. 

In a LinkedIn post, Paul Wright, Director of E-commerce and IT at FatFace, which in addition to its digital offering has over 200 stores across the UK and Ireland, says: “We’ve had a really exciting year in e-commerce here, having replaced our online and supporting IT platforms whilst continuing to explore new and innovative ways to share our product stories with customers. We have plans to accelerate our growth even faster and as a result we are looking for excellent individuals to join us on the next stage of our journey.”

Roles are available in the areas of international e-commerce, digital marketing and digital content. Further details here.

Bad month for… 

Wesfarmers finally managed to extricate itself from the UK, selling its Homebase operation to Hilco for £1. Some excellent analysis here. 

Tesco Direct employees…Tesco has called time on its attempt to out Amazon Amazon. It is closing its loss-making clothing and homewares website Tesco Direct, putting 500 jobs at risk. The venture has faced a number of significant challenges, including high costs for fulfilment and online marketing, which have prevented it from delivering a sustainable offer as a standalone non-food business, the retailer said.

“This decision has been a very difficult one to make, but it is an essential step towards establishing a more sustainable non-food offer and growing our business for the future,” said Charles Wilson, Tesco CEO, UK & ROI. “We want to offer our customers the ability to buy groceries and non-food products in one place and that’s why we are focusing our investment into one online platform.”

The site will cease trading on 9th July, with the closure of the Milton Keynes distribution centre which handles Tesco Direct orders.

Gareth Jones left his role as CEO Online at Missguided, just eight months after joining the fashion venture.

Sainsbury’s customers hit out at “creepy” CCTV screens being placed above self-service checkouts at hundreds of stores. 

One Sainsbury’s regular told The Independent she had been shocked to find herself being filmed while purchasing her groceries at a branch in central London. “Not only does it feel like there is mistrust and that you are potentially guilty of something, but there’s also the fear they will be storing your data. I shan’t be using their self-service machines ever again. I felt violated.”

Other customers took to social media to express their concerns. One said a screen clearly showed the pin machine and keypad. “I’ll be boycotting this store and any other store that has these screens. It’s insane,” she stated. A Sainsbury’s spokesperson commented: “The safety of our customers and colleagues is really important to us so we have invested in a range of measures to keep everyone safe, and this is essentially an example of that.”

Hmmm, is anyone buying that? RTIH has had the misfortune to come across these screens at its local Sainsbury’s store. Rather than keeping customers safe, the entire initiative smacks of ‘do not steal stuff, we are watching you!’

The “reliably dreadful” WHSmith has been voted the worst UK High Street retailer, in a Which? survey of over 10,000 shoppers.

The jury’s out on…

Marks and Spencer is set to close 100 stores by 2022 as part of its five-year transformation plan to make the retailer “special again”.

Foot Locker posted better than expected quarterly results, but remains firmly on the back foot, according to Neil Saunders, Managing Director at GlobalData Retail.

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