Tuesday, 9 December 2008

E-tail versus Retail

Shopping habits have changed drastically in the last decade. Shops that once remained closed on Sundays now open seven days a week. Supermarkets open 24 hours a day, and the Internet provides round the clock access to all manner of products and services.

With Christmas approaching, and shopping on everyone’s minds, many are turning to the Internet for those all important pre and post Christmas purchases?


This time of year it is incredibly appealing to stay in the warmth and comfort of your home rather than brave the chilly high street. We can stock our kitchen cupboards with festive fare, order those stocking fillers and even book a holiday to recover after the festivities, all whilst sitting by the fire with a mince pie and some mulled wine. We can buy almost anything online, even the kitchen sink.

The Office of National Statistics confirmed online sales grew thirty percent during 2008, and 1.3 million of us in the UK shop online each day, according to price comparison website Shopzilla.co.uk. The Interactive Media In Retail Group (IMRG) predict online sales will increase in the run up to Christmas, with the average shopper spending £215.

Twenty-four hour access, convenience and price are the main attraction. Shopzilla found the overall shopping experience rated higher online when compared to the high street.


With the credit crunch upon us and the average annual household spend rocketing, value for money is important. Online, price comparison and greater choice enables shoppers to snap up bargains whilst avoiding the hustle and bustle of busy stores.

James Roper, CEO of IMRG predicts: “British shoppers will beat the crunch with Internet prices this Christmas, spending more than a billion pounds each week in the run-up.

“Retailers and suppliers will be under extreme pressure to price competitively this year, so there will be a lot of volatility out there – and fantastic bargains – that the Internet uniquely enables canny shoppers to find and grab before anyone else gets the chance.”


E-tail does not have universal appeal, and E-tailers get it wrong too. The inconvenience of incorrect or misplaced orders, missed deliveries and returns procedures deters customers.

One shopper said: “Delivery is too much hassle. The post always comes when you’re at work and you have to trail all the way to the post office to collect things. It’s easier to venture into town yourself.”

And, as more online shops appear, thanks to websites such as eBay, security has become an issue. Identity theft and fraud regularly make headline news. How can customers be confident a seller is legitimate, and what risks exist when disclosing financial details?

Even trusted e-stores cannot avoid glitches, and technology can be unreliable. Problems leave customers frustrated, unable to access the website or complete purchases - resulting in a loss of business to other retailers.

E-tail strips away human interaction and detracts from the social ‘experience’ of shopping. In store shoppers interact with staff, but online customer service is automated.

The high street customer takes more time and is exposed to an array of store specific items and promotions, whereas online customers are more focused.

In store, customers can check products for suitability and quality, examining a tangible product rather than a virtual representation prior to purchase. They can take the product home without delay and delivery charges.

The future

Will the growing popularity of online stores such as Amazon and Play.com be detrimental to the high street? City centre stores could lose out.

For the major players retail and e-tail go hand in hand, complementing one another to secure their strong market share.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Tonight I watched Dispatches: What's in Your Wine?

Firstly - surely no one believes that wine is purely fermented grape juice. OF COURSE the makers add ingredients to enhance their product. Did anyone see the episode of The Simpsons where Bart travelled to France on an exchange trip and was placed at a vineyard where the winemakers put antifreeze in their wine???

Obviously, that's not a reality.

Only a few producers have ever been embroiled in a 'dirty wine scandal' (the words of Jane Moore) and have added dodgy ingredients.

Are we surprised that winemakers use additional flavour enhancers or pesticides? I'm not.

One big part of the program centred around flavoured yeast that was added to wine. So what? We eat yeast every day. Bread, beer... If you want pesticide free wine you can always buy organic. Or, better still, just find out from the producers what's in it.

I do agree, however, that consumers should have access to the ingredients of wine. But, this doesn't necessarily need to go on the bottle. Who exactly knows what sulphates are good or bad anyway? Would it put anyone off?

Half of the program was about Champagne too - seemed to me like a good half hour. Quite frankly, I've never really liked the taste of the stuff. I prefer sparkling wine. I'm sure many do too if they are honest. Perhaps it was a way to string out the program.

In essence, I saw little point in this documentary. It's yet another in a long line of scaremongering from another TV journalist who, quite frankly, looks uninterested in the topic - occasional head nodding, fake looking interested looks and some so called (barely) challenging questions.

Jane Moore should go back to appearances on Loose Women - at least then she seems to know what she's talking about.

If you're that bothered about what's in your wine, have a cup of tea instead.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Question of the day…

So... I just saw ANOTHER of those supermarket price comparison adverts on tele. Suddenly it struck me - Why don’t ASDA have one of those loyalty-stroke-club-card dealies?

Sainsbury’s have Nectar, Tesco have their Club Card, ASDA have nothing.

Aren't loyalty cards the thing of the moment. Waterstones have one, WHSmith have one, Boots have the Advantage Card... need I say more? Is there a reason that bosses at ASDA have disregarded this as an essential customer retention and marketing opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I shop at ADSA more than the other supermarkets, but it would be nice to have some recognition and reward for it surely.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Where did they go?

Whatever happened to the traditional pub? Why is our choice limited to wine bars and so called gastro-pubs in most big cities nowadays?

I fondly remember my local pub, a traditional sort, where we used to go without fail each Sunday afternoon. AND there was the hilarious quiz night - with the lady with the porn star voice - and the knowledge that our team would always come last. Everything has sadly changed. They've renovated the interior and removed all those little quirks and nuances that made it our local.

I also remember, as a youngster, family trips where we would stop for lunch in a country pub. I can still recall that wonderful smell of bar meals mixed with ale and real wooden furniture, while my brother and I sat outside drinking shandy on a wooden picnic bench.

Another thing that's bothering me is the demise of the good Irish pub. Great pubs, with a great atmosphere and characters you wouldn't meet anywhere else. There have been several failing attempts to bring them back in some areas, but they're just not the same.

Don't get me wrong. I like change and nothing can stay the same forever. But deep down doesn't everyone want to find their own version of Cheers - where everybody knows your name?

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Hot Off The Press (nearly)...

I’ve never bought the Daily Mirror before, and I rarely look at the back pages of any newspaper. But today something compelled me to buy it. If I’m honest, I was just after something to flick through with my glass of Rosé.

All I can say is, hats off to the sport sub for the best headline I’ve seen in a long time. FRANK INCENSED. Made me chuckle. Shame it wasn’t nearer the festive season, then it would have really been something.

Not a footy fan myself, I was more interested in that play on words than with the actual story - something about Frank Lampard “poised to quit Chelsea” (the words of Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror).