Last month’s choice quotes from the retail technology world…
“Just like with the threat of a nuclear attack, we very much hope that a no-deal Brexit is a worst-case scenario that never actually happens. Anyone planning to use a parcel courier to ship to the EU in the future must trust that the threat of a hard Brexit never actually comes true, because British exporters know ducking under a table won’t help them survive the extra duties, red tape and delays on their exports to the EU.” ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks
“When companies like House of Fraser crash, history shows that asset stripping is often the consequence. You’ve got to question the motives for this buyout and ask whether Mr Ashley has got the interests of the company and its workers at heart.” Alan Costello, GMB Organiser
“The latest ONS figures are a rare bit of good news for the UK High Street but I’m afraid won’t tempt us to invest there. It’s simply a nice boost from the hot summer and World Cup while the brutal and relentless shift towards online continues apace.” James Dowey, Chief Investment Officer & Chief Economist, Neptune Investment Management
“We’re finding that some consumers still prefer the reassurance of human interaction – and this need should not be ignored. For instance, in 2015 Morrisons reintroduced human-staffed checkouts for small shopping baskets – a move away from the wave of automated, self-service tills that have swept the nation. It turns out that people quite enjoy their everyday interactions with the smiling, familiar checkout operator; advice from a knowledgeable shop assistant; or just bumping into a friend in the local supermarket queue.
It seems that Marks and Spencer has acknowledged that while the way we shop might is becoming amplified by technology, it’s important not to underestimate the power of human interaction. With the future of retail nearly here, the real question is how to ensure it remains appealing and convenient for future consumers.” Manu Tyagi, Associate Partner for Retail, Infosys Consulting
“The latest results from Target serve as confirmation that the American retail sector is enjoying a renaissance. With a good cross-section of customers and a broad exposure to many categories, Target serves as a reasonably good bellwether for the consumer mood. A sales uplift of 7%, supported by a 6.5% rise in comparables - the best result in 13 years - proves that sentiment is upbeat and spending fairly carefree.
That said, it would be unfair to credit all of Target's strong numbers to economic conditions. Indeed, Target performed well above the market at the overall level, and in terms of the growth produced at both stores and via its digital channels. In essence, it is outpacing rivals and taking market share.” Neil Saunders, Managing Director, GlobalData Retail
“It will be interesting to see how Sport’s Direct’s multi-channel experience could help to turn around House of Fraser’s department stores’ ill-fate. As we are all well aware, retailers and landlords are facing the most challenging environment since the post global financial crisis of 2008, driven by changing consumer trends, higher inflation, lower consumer spend and changing shopping habits. Over the past year, there’s been a raft of store closures, administrations and CVAs being announced, which in part, has been blamed on the increasing online and social media retail space.
Retailers that provide the right experience and service are really adapting the way that people shop, and as a result, are changing the requirement for the bricks and mortar store so it would be interesting to understand Sports Directs’ take on this and whether they really relish the challenge and are able to adapt House of Fraser’s customer experience through online, physical and social sales, in order to keep apace and meet the consumers requirements of today perhaps utilising in part the Flannels facia.” Paul Souber, Co-Head of Colliers International’s Retail division
"Business rates are arcane. We need to find a different way to tax business activity, one that doesn't fall so heavily on a business like traditional retail, that uses a lot of space. The present system creates an imbalanced playing field. Non-retail businesses don't pay that tax because they don't have stores - internet business is an obvious example. When an Amazon delivery comes to your home in that cardboard box, which we all think is a bit excessive, then that box goes in the bin, or to the tip.
The process is paid for by business rates - by the retailer who lost that sale, and was out-competed by Amazon, and who paid the tax for the services that Amazon used for free. It is unfair. And the tax system should never be part of the competitive advantage for a business. They should compete on a level basis - that is all the High Street is asking for." Justin King, former Chief Executive of Sainsbury's
“We will not tolerate retailers on online marketplaces, especially those based abroad who are not within reach of the German tax authorities, doing business without paying sales tax. The bill is to protect honest businessmen from competitive disadvantages.” Ulrike Demmer, spokeswoman for the German government