Retail Insights from Retail & Tech No 26

Retail news and trends to watch out for


  • Subscribe to the brand. More brands are experimenting with the subscription model in a bid to create a source of recurring revenue and cultivate deeper relationships with consumers. Fashion retailer H&M is one of the latest companies to launch a subscription brand.
    Called Singular Society, the membership-based brand is currently in soft launch and retails homeware, fashion and a range of personal-care products. H&M says products are sourced from manufacturers at the price of what it costs to make them, eliminating mark-ups and providing transparency to its members. Singular Society is only available by invitation and users can sign up via a waiting list. The brand offers four plans, whereby users can pay monthly or annually, ranging from €7.90 to €19.50.


  • Better than expected. The pandemic may have dealt a severe blow to retail, but it has also seen consumers spend less on experiences like travel, dining and entertainment to the benefit of real goods sold in stores. The Fitch Ratings 2021 Outlook report states that retail sales in the US are expected to grow between 5% and 6% this year thanks to the redirected spend from experiences to goods. Fitch notes that many retailers made downward revisions to their forecasts at the beginning of the pandemic, but have ended up out-performing these expectations. Fitch adds that the outlook is mainly negative across most of Fitch’s retail space, due to uncertainty over how long the pandemic will last.


  • Unhappy online. Only 15% of consumers are happy with their online shopping experiences, according to research by analytics company Contentsquare. Nearly 33% of respondents associated online shopping with boredom, frustration and even anxiety. The research, which surveyed 4,000 consumers and 500 marketers across the UK, the US, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, revealed that the top-three causes of online shopping-based customer dissatisfaction are: Pop-ups or ads on a site (49%), when a site or app crashes during checkout (48%) and when a discount code does not work at checkout (45%). Other put-offs include when a website or app goes offline (43%) and when a customer cannot find what they are looking for (42%). Contentsquare notes shoppers choose to shop online mainly for convenience, adding that if consumers opt to buy online rather than in store, it is because they expect their needs to be met quickly and to find what they are looking for without any effort. Additionally, 42% of consumers said they specifically shop online because they get a better product selection, while another 48% said they do so because they can get the best price. However, Contentsquare notes that the best price is not only about discounts, but about being transparent with customers. For example, features like price comparisons and return policies push customers to shop online since this kind of information is rarely provided in-store, claims Contentsquare.


  • Traffic wars. Visits to beauty retailer Sephora’s US stores were down 44.6% in November year-over-year, while US beauty retailer Ulta Beauty’s traffic fell 16.6%, according to location data analytics company In April, Sephora and Ulta saw a 97.9% and 95.3% year-over-year drop in visits, respectively, following pandemic-related government-mandated store closures. However, since May, Ulta Beauty has seen a faster rate of gradual improvement in store footfall compared to Sephora. While the LVMH-owned retailer’s footfall improved from an 88.7% drop in May to a 61.2% decrease in June, Ulta bounced back quicker, with footfall down 76.5% in May and improving to a 37.5% decline in June.