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3 ways IoT is impacting retail
CHRIS KOENEMAN | April 9, 2019
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Article | April 8, 2020
E-commerce platforms are no longer secondary to that of brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, having an e-commerce platform is crucial to ensure business success today. The numbers don’t lie. Global retail e-commerce sales totaled over $3.5 billion in 2019. The value of the market is rising year on year. Running an online store can be a lucrative exercise if you get the vital processes correct. One such process is your inventory management. At heart, e-commerce is simple. You showcase a range of products online, customers find and buy what they want, and then you deliver. What’s critical, then, is that you have the items you advertise and can get them where they need to go. That’s why getting your inventory management right is essential.
Last July, a small group representing the giants of the tech industry gathered in the seat of US government, Washington DC. They probably didn’t want to be there. Congress had summoned their employers Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon to answer questions about the command they hold over the markets they operate in. On Amazon’s behalf, associate general counsel Nate Sutton spoke in defense of his employer’s role in US retail. Throughout, he argued that Amazon isn’t so powerful as to be able to control prices and stifle competition. Amazon, he pointed out, makes up less than 1% of retail globally. In the US, it accounts for around 4% of retail. In fact, Walmart is much larger than Amazon, he said. In terms of sales, Sutton is right. Walmart reported $510 billion in total sales across its US and international segments in the 2019 fiscal year, versus Amazon’s $233 billion in roughly the same period.
Primark is one of the latest retailers to announce the temporary closure of some of its stores, in a bid to help stop the spread of coronavirus. It has closed outlets in Italy, France, Spain, and Austria (where 30% of its revenue is generated), while its UK and Northern Ireland stores at the time of publication at least remain (perhaps controversially) open. Primark is certainly not the only one to take this kind of action. Global retailers including Glossier, Nike, Urban Outfitters, and Patagonia have all indefinitely shut their stores, purely to help prevent further outbreak. In the majority of cases, employees are being paid for lost shifts. At the same time, retailers have also updated working policies to help ease the strain on staff. Starbucks, for example, has announced that it is implementing ‘catastrophe pay’ to US employees, meaning that it will now pay staff for up to 14 days if they have been diagnosed or in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.
Most European countries and the United States have been in lockdown since mid-March due to the Covid 19 pandemic, and brick and mortar stores have been closed accordingly. Although online retail continues, it is proving difficult due to falling consumer spending, transport issues and disruptions of the supply chain. A forecast by Indian management consulting company Wazir Advisors, which focuses specifically on the apparel sector, predicts a decline in apparel consumption in 2020 of 45 percent in the EU and 40 percent in the US, which could lead to a reduction by 300 billion US dollars (around 274 billion euros or close to 240 British pounds).
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