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23 May
A recent report from the independent research consultancy, Retail Economics, claims that many British retailers are "sleep-walking into administration", with underpaid and overstretched consumers opting to save their pennies and stay away from the high street, causing retail businesses to fail. 

Citing the recent collapse of BHS and Austin Reed, Retail Economics' Chief Executive Richard Lim said, "Many of the economic factors supporting households through last year are beginning to unwind and darker clouds are forming on the horizon. Retailers will have to evolve rapidly to stay relevant to consumers and economically viable." 

But wasn't the UK economy supposed to be in a healthy recovery not so long ago? Perhaps it's time to take a critical look at the retail industry and assess this pessimistic view of the state of the nation.

Back in March the IMF warned that the world economy was at "a delicate juncture" and faced an increasing "risk of economic derailment". In his budget speech that same month Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne predicted world-beating growth for the British economy. And the 2.2% growth in GDP last year supports this claim.

However, several troubling factors challenge this, and these provide the substance of Lim's claim. 

First there is the coming inflation rise, which, coupled with a slowdown in employment rates and a lack of growth in salaries, means there is currently low spending power in British households. The temporary economic boost that came out of the dip in oil prices earlier in the year seems to have worn off and now consumers are once again having to tighten their belts.

Lim claims that this has led to general economic gloom. "Consumers are now more pessimistic about the future of the economy than at any time in the last three years," he says in the report.

Part of the problem he perceives is that old-school retailers (such as BHS and Austin Reed) have been able to hold on for so long largely due to the grace of low interest rates and banks' leniency. 

The prescribed method of survival would seem to be adaptability. The retail market has changed enormously in the decades since these chains were founded, and proceeding to do business without constant reference to industry and retail analysis and pricing metrics might no longer be an option. 

Retailers may be eyeing the recent retail disaster stories uneasily, but a few measures can be taken which, if not guaranteeing their survival, will at least make administration less likely, by bringing them up to speed with current industry standards.

Survival might be a matter of aggressively adopting new retail methods for the digital market, but also a more adaptable pricing strategy. Ecommerce analysis allows for a greater understanding of the retail market than ever before, and retailers ignore this at their peril. 

It may be alarmist to claim that retailers are "sleep-walking into administration", but if an over-the-top wake-up call is all it takes to bring long-standing retailers up to speed with current practice and back to the top of their game, then it's a call they'll be glad they received.
 
Stay on top of the retail landscape and take a free trial of Competitor Monitor's retail pricing analysis tool today.
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16 May
 

The rise and rise of internet shopping seems unstoppable. You can find virtually any product you need and have it delivered. Simple.

What do my competitors do to increase conversion?
Our competitor tracker software can see that there are retailers still relying on outdated delivery methods, clearing the way for competitors with improved service to step in a take the sale.
 
For many, the delivery is based on a chain which involves retailers entrusting a consumer’s package to a logistics company. It’s loaded onto a van, taken to a national hub, then a regional hub then sent out for delivery from the local depot. Track said parcel, and you’ll probably find it’s clocked up more miles than you have that month! It can seem very wasteful to have a parcel heading up and down the UK a few times before it reaches you, but that’s the way logistics work. Is it that inefficiency really what we’re stuck with, though? It seems unlikely, as companies are already looking at hi-tech alternatives.
 
Is drone delivery the future?
On the extreme side of the spectrum, California-based business ‘MatterNet’ specialises in medical supplies and specimens, and they’ve recently taken the first tentative steps into the world of drone delivery. These unmanned flying robots can fly direct from A to B, without worrying about getting stuck in traffic or inclement conditions. It’s not just goods they entrust to drones, either. Their drones carry blood samples to labs, allowing scientists to start work straightaway. The company is also trialling drone delivery of medical supplies to disaster zones, where it would be difficult to get a lorry load of bandages and equipment to physicians treating the wounded.
 
Of course, there are limits to a drone’s capability. Battery capacity means drones can only travel short distances, so fulfilment centres would only be able to deliver to relative locals via drone. There’s also the weight limit – it seems unlikely that a little quad-copter drone would be able to deliver your new washing machine.
Competitor Monitor’s price comparison software is able to identify every one of your competitor’s shipping rates and service. We can see that Amazon are still the biggest name in online shopping, and thanks to their delivery options, there’s a delivery service for everyone’s needs. Free shipping over £20? They offer that. Free next day delivery for Prime subscribers? They offer that, too. A particular delivery time on a day of your choice? They can arrange that for you. We all like a good deal, and free delivery at a time of our choosing is spoiling us all rotten. This is surely the future of online delivery.
 
How to give your consumers what they want
The problem is, once we’ve got a taste for the “I want it now” lifestyle, anything less than that is now classed as undesirable. Expensive shipping costs, no online tracking service and no guarantee on your purchase’s arrival date is really off-putting. Let’s imagine that Lucy wants a pair of trainers. Shop A sells them for £30, with free next day delivery. Shop B sells them for £25, but it’s £5 for postage, and delivery is within two to three days. The total cost is the same, but given the choice of sitting at home for three days in the hope your new shoes may turn up, or purchasing from a retailer who can guarantee you’ll be wearing them tomorrow can swing the deal of a dithering buyer.
 
It’s this kind of data that retailers can utilise to their best advantage through Competitor Monitor’s price tracking tool.
 
Of course, with the advent of digital items, such as music or game downloads, which can be delivered to your computer in seconds, we’re already enjoying an instant gratification system. Perhaps one day all our goods will be beamed across to us this way. After all, a lot of the space age innovations imagined in 1960s sci-fi are already with us. It’s only a matter of time until the technology turns those futuristic delivery dreams into reality.
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13 May
As human beings, it doesn’t take much to lure us in. Historically, a quirky campaign and some titillating packaging was enough to seal a deal in the marketplace.
 
However, thanks to the market landscape shifting from shelf view to online, retail analytics highlight that imagery has never played a more vital role in final buying decisions.
 
Does imagery really influence the online consumer?
In a virtual environment, the inability to touch or experience a product means some kind of imagery, be it still or moving, is necessary – a recent report by Competitor Monitor found that web pages with relevant images had 94% more views than those without. It’s a bit like walking into a shop blindfolded and buying something anyway - you simply wouldn’t do it, would you?
 
Being able to visualise a product outside of its virtual environment is one of the key factors related to the use of online imagery that will affect a consumer’s decision to buy. Looking at this in more detail, some products also need to be seen to be working. For example, our ecommerce analysis shows us that cleverly staged images showing a person using a product are far more likely to sell than a static studio shot with a stark white background.
 
Food retailer, Schwan, has one of the highest e-commerce conversion rates online and much of that is down to the sensitive use of environment in their images.
 
How does imagery influence consumer behaviour?
Another important factor is emotion. Using a range of images, it’s possible to create a story and, in turn, an emotional link with a product. For example, when we look across the toy industry landscape and analyse online product listing strategies, you can see that retailers employ imagery tactics that are essentially selling an experience to consumers. Images include children playing happily with their sibling, having a great time in the back garden or educating themselves independently through play. These images portray something more to consumers than buying another toy, they offer something that will make their children’s lives more enjoyable and their lives a little easier.
 
A number of different brands in different industries have varying approaches to utilising imagery online. For example, a consumer electronics manufacturer like Sony might use a 360-degree panorama. This way, a consumer will be able to see a product in its entirety. With a lot of money at stake for, say, a brand new DSLR camera. It’s important the whole thing is available for inspection.
 
Despite this, bigger is not always better. The Competitor Monitor industry insights show that using too many images can result in the very real issue of information overload. Bombarded by images, consumers are likely to switch off and opt for another site. It’s all about striking a balance. If selling a product, the images need to be useful; maybe they’re conveying a lifestyle, maybe they’re demonstrating a product, either way, they need to be there for a reason.
 
Competitor Monitor’s unique industry analysis tool allows retailers and manufacturers to monitor competitor’s behaviour relating to imagery with instant access to every stock listing and its data.
 
You can start a free trial with Competitor Monitor today to ensure your brand stays ahead of the game.
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11 May
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09 May
The market for kid’s toys is enormous. Worldwide it turns over almost $84 billion a year. A huge percentage of these sales are carried out online and web retailers are well aware of the formulas needed to shift their stock. 
 
There are a number of factors that influence whether consumers will commit to a purchase and, in this highly competitive market, they are worth following to the letter.
 
Quality reigns supreme in the kid’s toy market. With so many counterfeit products available, particularly from the East Asian market, parents are keen to avoid potentially harmful fakes. 
 
This quality is emphasised online through careful, sensitive branding. Take Toys R Us for example. Their website features imagery of children enjoying their products in a safe and happy environment. Just as other lifestyle brands promote their products through potential experiences, online toy retailers are keen to stress the integrity of theirs. The difference in this market is that toy retailers are battling on two fronts; firstly, they need to attract the kids in, but the transaction will usually take place between the retailer and the parent.
 
Imagery has to reflect both of these potential draws – bright, colourful and enticing to kids and safe, reliable and well-built to adults. 
 
For independent toy retailers, this brand integrity is harder to achieve. For this reason, many will forfeit a proportion of their profits in order to host a product on Amazon or another reputable site. This enormous shop window not only attracts many more visitors by hosting a product in this way, it’s possible to piggyback the previously established emotional relationship a consumer might have with that brand. By working together too, online toy retailers can entice customers in. Links between independent online stores can help, but it’s a risky strategy. 
 
Another key factor is timing. Or, in simpler terms, Christmas. This time of year is incredibly important for online toy retailers, as Valentine’s Day is for chocolatiers, and a lot of extra effort in terms of marketing is usually expended around this period. You’ll also see trends. For retailers of online toys, being able to monitor industry sales patterns, particularly around Christmas time, is essential to drawing in customers. Here again though, media hype – take the drone explosion at the end of last year – can lead to cheap imitations, so, once more, integrity is hugely important. 
 
Of course, price is another one of the major influencing buying factors. Toy retailers are forever competing with one another over price, particularly with the more popular trending items. Larger, more successful retailers are often working with online competitor price tracking and ecommerce comparison software as a way of staying ahead of the retail game, particularly around busy periods such as summer and Christmas.
 
Unfortunately, for smaller retailers. this can quickly push them out of the marketplace but there is a way back in: shipping costs. Competitor Monitor research has found that up to 55% of online consumers have abandoned shopping carts as a result of extortionate rates. Bring down delivery costs or increasing their efficiency and you instantly entice custom, particularly from parents who might be spending a lot of money in a number of virtual marketplaces.
 
Each of these influential purchasing factors can be closely monitored through Competitor Monitor’s price and product tracking software, helping brands and retailers to stay ahead of their competition regardless of season or trends.
 
You can start your free price monitoring trial with Competitor Monitor by getting in touch with us here.
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15 Jan
As the decorations come down, the last mince pie eaten and the labour force returns to work, festive trading numbers have begun to emerge.
 
With large retailers such as Next and Marks & Spencer reporting disappointing trading figures, it gives an idea of the scale of market as a whole. 2015 in general already proved to be a volatile year for retailers and the run-up to Christmas was supposed to make up for the shortfall.
 
We carried out some research on the market as a whole and attributed heavy and unpredictable discounting, online shopping and interestingly, stock availability, as key issues that retailers faced. Alongside that, our findings showed that 85 percent of retailers without an online presence suffered the most. Failure of retailers to address this in 2016 could prove to be fatal. Primark is one of the few remaining retailers that does not sell items online and they reported flat sales.
 
Joshua Bamfield, Professor of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Household name chains could cut 100 or more of their stores to focus more online. There are a number of walking wounded. Due to constant sales many now refuse to buy items unless there are big discounts.”
 
Next reported a 0.4 percent increase in total sales with a drop in retail sales by 0.5 percent for the 60 days to 24th December. It’s online and catalogue service, Directory, fared slightly better with sales increasing by 2 percent. Marks and Spencer faced a 5.8 percent fall in sales of general in the 13 weeks to 26th December. Sales of its popular food sales had its best ever Christmas where sales climbed 0.4 percent in the period. Its Chief Executive is to step down in April.
 
There is however, some optimistic news. John Lewis reported a stellar Christmas trading period as sales rose 5.1 percent compared to last year. 
 
Conversely, retailers with a strong or complete online presence have seen sizeable growth. A good example of this is Ted Baker. Their retail sales grew by 10 percent with online sales up 39.1 percent. They maintained that avoiding pre-Christmas promotions by starting sales after Christmas and not taking part in Black Friday also contributed to its positive figures.
 
ASOS, an online fashion and beauty retailer, enjoyed a jump of 22 percent in total retail in the four months to December.
 
It’ll be interesting to see how this month and 2016 as a whole unfolds. Despite higher household incomes this year and a fall in oil prices, will this mean tills will be ringing this year? Not necessarily. Retailers must play it smart this year and combine efficiency with technology to stay significant. They will also have to address the issue of attracting shoppers that are drunk on discounts sooner rather than later. The bloodbath that was predicted after Christmas didn’t quite materialise albeit some retailers are walking wounded, it’s time for retailers to build on their successes.
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16 Dec
At Competitor Monitor, we track thousands of toys every day and regularly come across interesting findings in our data. This week, in honour of the new Star Wars movie, we decided to explore further into this data to examine price changes and the availability of popular Star Wars toys in the run up to Christmas. 
 
Merchandise based on popular film franchises such as Star Wars can be a real money spinner for film studios and retailers alike. With The Force Awakens instalment due for release in the UK today, has it had much impact on the pricing of Star Wars merchandise over the past month?
 
Let’s take a look:
 
  • There are currently over 750 Star Wars branded toys for sale online with prices ranging from £1.84 all the way up to £350.00.  Amazon currently lists the largest number of Star Wars toys than any other retailer and carries out the most price changes.
  • Our research shows that overall, prices for Star Wars branded toys have fluctuated in price rather frequently over the past 30 days. 
  • Many retailers have kept static prices on the newest and most popular products but retailers that had lower prices to begin with have gradually increased their prices to be more in line with the market. 
  • Star Wars The Force Awakens Micro Machines Millennium Falcon Playset had the most price changes in the last 30 days; 30 changes with 15 price increases and 15 price decreases.
  • The most popular Star Wars branded LEGO product with the most price changes was the Star Wars 75093: Death Star Final Duel. There has been up to a 24 percent reduction on this product in the last 30 days which might explain the shortage of this item being in stock. It is currently out of stock on LEGO’s own online shop – parents take note!
  • The LEGO Star Wars 75104: Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle which featured on the 2015 DreamToys Top 12 Christmas Toys list, can be found cheaper at around half of retailers but the price has increased at four retailers in the past week.
  • Last year’s film hit Frozen has much less variety of toys on the market this year. With price changes also less frequent, even on the popular toys such as the Disney Frozen Sing Along with Elsa, it’s safe to say that Star Wars is dominating the toy market this year. 
 
We will be monitoring the products above to see how they change in price and availability into the New Year. Let us know if you wish to make any comments on this blog, we’d love to hear from you!
 
Not using Competitor Monitor? We help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you stay ahead of the game
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11 Dec
With new research indicating that like-for-like sales for November fell 0.4 percent compared to November last year, it’s reasonable to assume that Black Friday hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this year, especially for retail stores in the UK. 
 
The Retail Sales Monitor, carried out by BRC-KPMG, also highlighted that excluding online sales, only two categories (home accessories and furniture) showed growth in stores driven by Black Friday sales. However, online shoppers spent a whopping £1.1bn on non-food products contributing to an annual rise of 11.8 percent, clearly causing disruption to the typical Christmas shopping trends.
 
From our own perspective, turning on the telly on the morning of Black Friday, which showed only a handful of shoppers queuing outside supermarkets, we had a gut feeling that last year’s antics would not be repeated. Despite higher household disposable income and the bargains that didn’t quite tickle shoppers’ fancy, it seemed Black Friday was an online affair this year. It did however make us think that ASDA was holding a Magic-8 ball all along, considering they bowed out of the event they were credited for bringing to the UK back in 2013.
 
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, said: "November's relatively flat sales figures are a reality check for the retail sector with consumers holding off for a Black Friday bargain pitted against retailers determined to hold onto their hard-earned margins. Despite the hype around Black Friday, there was minimal loosening of the family purse strings compared to last year."
 
So with this year’s build up to Christmas probably one of the hardest to read, how are things going to unfold for retailers? We believe with online retailers making inroads with consumers, high-street retailers will continue to feel the pinch. However, there are always those last minute shoppers that can provide that much needed footfall, especially with last dates for online orders ranging between the 16th and 23rd December. Our research suggests that nearly 40% of shoppers plan to do Christmas shopping in brick and mortar stores. With Worldpay’s data showing that Christmas Eve 2014 was its single busiest day of the year, processing 26m transactions in the UK, could be a sign that the retail stores might just have a Merry Christmas after all.
 
Nevertheless, with promotional planning become increasingly difficult and with a myriad of new shopping days added to the retail calendar, have you thought about how to gain that competitive edge? We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay ahead of the game so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more!
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04 Dec
Last week, we discussed the impact that Amazon’s new Prime Now service is having on the high street. Now we’re interested to see the affect it’s having on online retailers.
 

The gloves are off

Well for one, Argos has stepped up its game. By leveraging its network of stores around the country, its Fast Track service offers same day delivery, 7 days a week. They guarantee that if you buy before 6pm, you will receive your delivery by 10pm, with a choice of four delivery slots. How much will it cost you…£3.95, without the need for a subscription. With 20,000 products eligible for this delivery method and 95% coverage of UK postcodes, which is more than Amazon, you have to doff your hat to them!
 
Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail said: "In terms of customers being able to order online as late as 6pm and receive products on their doorstep that evening, Argos is showing its rivals a clean pair of heels with this new speedy nationwide service."
 

Click-and-Collect

Then there’s Shutl. They partner with local retailers and have just recently announced that River Island are the first retailer in the UK to sign up for their ‘Click and Don’t Collect’ service. This service offers shoppers who have opted for Click-and-Collect the option to change to Shutl’s service and receive their order in 90 mins, paying £4.95 for the privilege. In some words, this is effectively an expansion of the popular Click-and-Collect services offered by many multi-channel retailers.
 
However, not all retailers are taking the fight to Amazon with John Lewis even going to the extent of questioning the free Click-and-Collect model. Believing it to be unsustainable, its charging £2 for its Click-and-Collect service on orders less than £30. It may well be an admiral decision, but could this spark off another evolution in online shopping? It would make sense as research suggests that retailers are losing sales by refunds and constant issues with stock levels through Click-and-Collect.
 
In hindsight, our own research highlights that online shoppers don’t necessarily want their items delivered so speedily with only 30% opting to pay extra for services such as next day delivery. Then there is the question of sustainability. Our guess is that Amazon is subsidising the cost of these deliveries but for how long can this carry on? Well, Amazon really doesn’t do conventional so our guess is that faster deliveries are here to stay for the time being. Likewise, you’ll probably see a drone hovering above your house in the future, which will move the goalposts yet again.
 
Nevertheless, if you are an online retailer, have you thought about how to gain that competitive edge? We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay ahead of the game so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more!
 
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27 Nov
We thought it would be a bit rude for us not blog about Amazon Prime Now considering it has recently been launched in our home city of Newcastle upon Tyne!
 
However, we Geordies, like the rest of the masses, must be Amazon Prime members with the Prime Now app installed on our smartphones before we can enjoy the benefits of the service. We don’t think this will be too much of an issue considering the service has already proved to be a hit in launch cities such as London and Birmingham where customers have given it a positive thumbs up. Nevertheless, with coverage looking to expand even further in 2016, it begs the question, what impact is this having on the already struggling high street?
 
With much debate over the past few months about the scale of shop closures on the high street, factors such as business rates, regulation and online shopping, are cited as the main reasons behind the decline. However, our research suggests that changing consumer behaviour is the key factor behind the shifting landscape, thus, prompting online retailers to innovate further and forcing traditional brick and mortar stores to play catch up.
 
Consumers today are a more time-constrained, savvier bunch and increasingly shopping online to fulfil their needs. Recent research suggests that online sales, as a proportion of total retail spend, more than tripled from 2007 to 2014. Now, with a service such as Amazon’s, which can efficiently deliver goods to your door an hour after you have ordered them, online retail growth will only go in one direction and that’s upwards. 
 
Mark Hudson, lead retailer at PwC, said earlier this year: "We're again seeing the continued effects of the digital revolution and consequent change in customer behaviour play out on the high street - these trends have been with us for some time and we should expect the rate of closures to continue. Rather than try to recreate the past, the high street needs to evolve to be relevant to the future."
 
So let’s put it in perspective. There is a fee to pay for the privilege (£79 for the yearly Prime Membership plus £6.99 for the actual one-hour service), but if you frequently purchase your goods online and more specifically Amazon, you cannot really argue with the charge. Just imagine your kettle stops functioning and you are in a desperate need of a cuppa or you have an afternoon tea party that starts in a few hours. You could have a new kettle delivered to your door in an hour just by making a few taps on your smartphone’s keypad rather than visiting your local small appliance store. It just takes convenience to a whole new level that frankly the high-street retailer cannot compete with. With that in mind, we just had to try it out for ourselves! We placed an order for a laser toner cartridge for our printer using the Prime Now app and started the stopwatch...48 minutes later, we had taken delivery. Impressed we were!
 
It did get us thinking though…is this a sustainable business model? Are Amazon even making a profit from providing such a service? Time will tell but we would bet on Amazon considering they have challenged the status quo on many occasions before. Stay tuned for part two where we discuss the impact that Amazon Prime Now is having on its fellow online retailers…
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24 Nov
With only three days to go, the biggest shopping day of the year is drawing upon us. Overtaking Boxing Day as the day where British shoppers go bargain hunting, Black Friday 2015 is going to be, according to retail experts, the biggest shopping day in UK history with online sales expecting to surpass £1bn. An impressive figure, this would be nearly £200m more than last year, where UK shoppers spent £1 million every three minutes on Black Friday. 
 
In a recent blog post, we talked about how the UK is the e-commerce capital of the EU with 79 percent of Britons making an online purchase in the past year. With events such as Black Friday and the fact it is so much bigger in the UK than elsewhere in Europe, it will solidify the UK’s place at the top of the rankings. The next biggest market is Germany, where online sales are expected to bring in £281m, a fraction of what is expected here in the UK.
 
James Miller, Senior Retail Consultant at Experian Marketing Services, said: “The 2015 Christmas period is on track to be another record year for online retail in the UK. We expect that Black Friday will continue to break new ground for online shopping, passing the billion pound mark for the first time.”
 

Who’s in?

Amazon, Tesco, John Lewis, Curry’s, Argos and Sainsbury’s, to name a few, have all confirmed they will be taking part in this year’s Black Friday event. These retailers along with other major retailers have already started to promote their deals ahead of Black Friday to get hungry shoppers warmed up. However, due to the ugly scenes at retail outlets last year, some retailers have bowed out with Asda being the most notable absence. Seen as the company that introduced Black Friday to the UK back in 2013, Asda has said that due to customer feedback, it will not be participating in this year’s event. As an alternative, it will be offering savings of £26m across its products throughout November and December, rather than drastically reducing the prices of big-ticket items. Our research suggests that the products sitting atop of shopping lists include an array of big-ticket items such as TV’s and fridge-freezers, electrical goods on all scales, clothing and footwear, makeup, books and media, toys, homeware and video games.
 

Repercussions 

However, amidst the allure of bargain big-ticket items and the positive rhetoric around record-breaking revenue, it begs the question, what are the negative aspects of this one-day sales frenzy? One considerable factor is that last year’s Black Friday caused a massive knock on effect over trading over the Christmas period. Figures show that 2014 saw the weakest December sales growth since 2008 at just 1 percent and footfall is expected to be 8.8 percent lower on Boxing Day than it was last year. Furthermore, the amount of impulse purchases made by shoppers due to low prices could result in a startlingly high number of items being returned. Research suggests that these returns alone could cost online retailers around £180m!
 
With that said, having the popular Black Friday event in the retail calendar has retailers using Competitor Monitor to gain insight into competitor activity. Our service is helping them understand more about pricing and promotional trends, offering full visibility and the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Why not get in touch with us today to find out how you can get ahead or take our tour to find out more!
 
 
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10 Nov

It’s that time of the year again! With Christmas only seven weeks away, discussions in retail circles are around the ‘must have’ toy of the season. Historically, if you were to bet on this, a technological gadget would have most likely spring to mind. However, things are shaping up to be slightly different this year with high-tech gadgetry being shunned in favour of more traditional toys.

The Toy Retailers Association have recently revealed the 2015 DreamToys list, a list believed to be the twelve must have toys this year. Decided on by a panel of selectors made up of leading UK toy retailers, the list is heavily laden with toys with a traditional-style of play. A large part of the list is focused around movie-related toys and one movie in particular, Star Wars. With three of the twelve predicted top selling toys in the list related to Star Wars, it has more than any other brand.

Gary Grant, Chairman of the DreamToys committee, said: “2015 is going to be a vintage year for toys. Strong entertainment brands like Frozen, Thunderbirds and Star Wars are appearing alongside creative brands like Little Live Pets and classic evergreens such as Lego, ever more stimulating playsets for under-fives such as Toot-Toot or Paw Patrol and family games like Pie Face.”

He added: “While the blockbuster licences may steal the headlines, it is exciting to see innovation throughout the list with manufacturers successfully combining this with traditional play in, for example, the IDO3D craft set, and Shopkins has become the new craze of the year, embracing all that is good about toys.”

So now the list has been released, it begs the question as to what effect it will have on the toy market? UK retailers hoping the products included in the DreamToys list will lead to the market growing by £100m in the run up to Christmas. Our research confirms that the UK's toy market is worth over £3bn and with an average of £300 spent annually on toys for each child up to the age of 11. Taking this into consideration, it will be interesting to see how the festive period plays out for retailers and whether a battle will ensue on the high street. With ASDA only just announcing its early Christmas Big Brand Toy Sale, which includes toys from the DreamToys list, some may say that the fuse has been lit.

We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay competitive so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more! 

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05 Oct

According to the latest figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK is now the e-commerce capital of the European Union (EU).

With 79 percent of Britons making an online purchase in the past year, the UK is far above the EU average of 50 percent. Other EU countries sharing the UK’s enthusiasm for e-commerce and boasted similar figures are Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Norway and Sweden with figures of 78 percent, 77 percent and 75 percent respectively. Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Germany also followed the trend making it into the 70 percent club.

However, at the other end of the scale, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy lagged far behind the EU average and held the lowest percentage of online shoppers at 10 percent, 17 percent and 22 percent respectively.

Latest figures also show that in the space of five years, between 2008 and 2013, e-commerce sales in the UK grew by a staggering 66 percent. Experts suggest the reason for this astonishing gain is due to the boundaries between online and offline shopping continuing to blur reflecting a growing shift towards Click & Collect services.

Julie Deane, Managing Director at The Cambridge Satchel Company, commented: “These days it is possible to reach customers in parts of the world a UK brand would not have had reach – total accessibility, global reach – the digital platform allows us to know our customers like never before.”

Moreover, additional figures released by the ONS suggest that e-commerce represents 20 percent of UK business turnover and exceeds the EU average of 15 percent. The UK’s share has increased from 16 percent from 2009 but still trails far behind the Republic of Ireland which sits at 52 percent.

So what do we make of the statistics? Well, they make for some interesting reading! With such shifts in consumer behaviour and the growth of e-commerce globally, you can’t help but think that online retail will only get bigger. We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay competitive so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more!

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14 Sep
 
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03 Sep
At a time when the UK is battling against an obesity epidemic, (with two-thirds of men and women classed as being overweight, the sportswear market is booming.

Compared to 2010 when the UK sportswear market was worth £4.62bn, last year this number grew substantially to reach £5.91bn, as British consumers go crazy for brands incorporating fashion, fitness and wearable tech. Looking ahead to 2019, a report from Key Note expects sportswear sales to hit £8.65bn if current rates continue.
Female fitness on the rise
Key Note points to the increasing diversity of sports classes and fashionable, tech-focused sportswear as a reason for the particular spike in women’s contribution to this trend.

With countless Instagram accounts dedicated to hashtags focused around #strongnotskinny, #cleaneating and #fitspo, millennial women are more exposed to and obsessed with celebrities leading this aspirational lifestyle. This demographic strive to be like them, hitting the gym and watching what they eat.

At Competitor Monitor we urge sports/fashion brands to sit up and take into account this rapidly growing market and expand their ranges for women. Female-only fitness wear brands such as Sweaty Betty are popping up everywhere, so it is worthwhile to consider how prices of items differ between competitors and identify where there could be a gap.

It’s not just the products, but also about how the female fitness and sportswear trends are marketed. Nike, Puma and Reebok are pioneering the way in terms of promoting a girl-friendly focus, with Reebok aiming to smash the 30% of women who are targeted by major sports brands.
Sportswear goes geek
Thanks to Ralph Lauren debuting a smart shirt for athletes last year, featuring built-in sensors that track the wearer’s movement and heart-rate, Key Note predicts that smart fitness clothing to take off massively.

Just as mobile phones and other gadgets are constantly developing, brands are pushing the boundaries when it comes to the capabilities of clothing. While Nike’s Nike+ is able to accrue vast amounts of consumer data, Adidas recently bought Runtastic for £154m, a sign that tuning into the connected runner is the way forward.
Stay competitive
So, with demand and availability of female-friendly and tech-heavy sportswear on the rise, at Competitor Monitor it’s our job to be monitoring this extremely lucrative market.

Want to see what your competitors are doing in this area? Let us help you to stay ahead of the game and get in touch to see how we can help.
 
 
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