According to the latest figures revealed by ONS, retailers saw continued growth in online spending throughout December which continued into the New Year.
Figures show retail sales increased by 4.3% compared to December 2015 and fell by 1.9% compared to November 2016. In December 2016 the average weekly spending online was £1.0 billion; an increase of 21.3% compared with the previous year online shopping during the holiday shopping period.
December saw high street sales continuing to rise, despite concerns over slower spending and lower levels of footfall. Last week, FTSE100 retailers were rewarded with a better-than-expected rise in shares when reporting financial results. M&S, John Lewis, and Debenhams were amongst the brands that posted positive retail sales results for the holiday spending period.
With the growing influence of the on-demand economy, customers expect goods to be delivered at top speed. Both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers are turning to innovative digital solutions to help enhance the customer shopping experience. Shoppers are increasingly digitally savvy, desiring convenience and easy access across platforms, which stems from the growing development of mobile technologies.
According to Rakesh Khanna, CEO and President of global digital solutions provider Syntel, the relative calm of the post New Year period provides a perfect opportunity for retailers to gauge the success of their 2016 technology initiatives and prepare to go digital in 2017.
“The large number of customers flocking to the shops in December put immense pressure on retailers to deliver at top performance,” says Khanna. “The ability to meet customer demands during this busy season is a key differentiator in boosting profits and driving business growth in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”
“However, shopping is shifting from an in-person activity to a hybrid of web, mobile and in-store shopping, meaning that consistent service, selection and brand image across all these channels is key. Retailers born online do not rely on old legacy systems, making it imperative that established brick and mortars evolve their core back office systems to deliver a compelling shopping experience, from browsing to delivery.”
Rakesh asserts that an omnichannel strategy allows retailers to capitalise on changing customer shopping habits by integrating offline and online channels. He points to modernising the core legacy systems that hold valuable data as an important strategy that enables brands to become more flexible and digital-ready, while minimising disruption to business operations.
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