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A tough economy isn’t halting etail’s success

David J Smith

The etail market is in excellent health despite the economic gloom. It seems the love affair British consumers have with shopping will not be soured, and as online is able to continue offering superior value, choice and convenience, it is best placed to thrive even through the Government’s budgetary reforms.

The etail market is in excellent health despite the economic gloom. It seems the love affair British consumers have with shopping will not be soured, and as online is able to continue offering superior value, choice and convenience, it is best placed to thrive even through the Government’s budgetary reforms.

2010 has been a strong year for online, with the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index revealing impressive resilience by etail to the tough economic conditions. The clothing sector has consistently outperformed the rest of the market throughout the life of the Index. 2010 has been no exception, with year-on-year increases for the sector averaging 20% to 30% and October recording the highest increase so far at 33%. Online fashion was already a competitive market, but this year has reached new levels, with retailers including Gap, Zara and H&M developing their online channels.

The quality of the customer experience will be a key component in the success of online fashion outlets. Technology is central to this, and retailers should ensure their websites are optimised for increasingly popular platforms such as mobile and the iPad.

Some etailers have begun to expand overseas, with Asos in particular reporting impressive sales growth. But cross-border still has many issues to resolve to create a fair trading environment, however. IMRG is at the forefront of ensuring legislation and practices are appropriate to facilitate this important area.

Going into the festive period, the online market is set to have its best-ever Christmas. The year ahead is going to be tough, but online could provide the economy

with the welcome positive news that has become so unfashionable recently.

David Smith is managing director of etail trade body IMRG

Special focus on international ecommerce p30-40

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