Online Retail News In Brief (1 November 2017)


In case you missed them, we’ve pulled together a few online retail news highlights from around the web this week.

Here are some of the latest stories in online retail.

Smartphone conspiracy theories

The BBC has shared stories from members of the public about times when they believed their smartphones had spied on them. The call for anecdotes came after Rob Goldman, vice president of ads at Facebook, denied that the company uses smartphone microphones to monitor conversations and serve targeted ad content.

One such story:

"I visited a friend who was setting up security cameras at her house," Melissa, from Australia, wrote.

"I have never used the internet to look at anything remotely linked to home security, yet less than an hour after discussing how to set up the cameras, I had a Facebook ad for home security cameras.

"My phone had been in my pocket the whole time."

More important than whether the practice actually exists in any wide-reaching manner, is arguably whether it's something that shoppers might become increasingly suspicious – even afraid – of. An IMRG blog by Monetate mentions that retailers should beware of crossing the 'creepy line' when it comes to personalisation. There comes a point when unexpected personalisation makes shoppers feel uneasy, perhaps enough to suspect they're being bugged.

Such fears may or may not be related to...

A decline in device use among younger people

Kantar has reported a six minute decline in average daily smart device use among 16-24 year-olds. In 2016, the demographic average daily use was 3.9 hours, which declined to 3.8 hours in 2017. A third of surveyed young people reported that they feel they spend too long on their phones, and would like to cut down.

The survey also found, perhaps unsurprisingly:

  • 94% of under-24s have a smartphone
  • 40% use multiple devices while online
  • 52% don't feel they could live without social media

Barnier's Brexit comment boosts sterling

The pound rose half a cent against the dollar on Tuesday after EU head Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier announced he was ready to speed up Article 50 negotiations.

Sterling also hit 87.79p to one euro after Barnier announced that the agenda for the next round of talks in “the next few hours or days”.

See the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index for information of currency impacts on online retail.

While on the subject…

Bank of England forecasts more Brexit doom

The Bank of England has suggested that Brexit would cost 75,000 financial services jobs. Its figure suggest that the jobs would migrate to the continent once Britain has left the EU. Xavier Rolet, the London Stock Exchange chief executive, put the figure at 200,000.

A series of professional and financial services firms have revised their job relocation figures down since the referendum, with JP Morgan citing 1,000 instead of 4,000, and UBS indicating 250, rather than 1,000.

River Island to launch gender-neutral kids range

River Island is set to introduce a unisex range of children's clothes next month, following its gender neutral design collaboration with designer Ashish in June.

Waterstones for sale?

Waterstones owner Alexander Mamut is reportedly considering options for a sale of the bookstore chain. Waterstones could fetch £250m, according to some estimates. Mamut purchased Waterstones from HMV for £53m in 2011.

Physical entertainment sales grow again

Physical copies of entertainment media have experienced positive growth for the first time in three years, thanks to games, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

  • physical entertainment grew 2.2% year-on-year
  • games sales grew 26%
  • music and video declined 5.4% and 4.8%

And finally…

A many-sided problem

In an act of pedantry, the intensity of which most can only dream of, a mathematician has petitioned the Department for Transport to alter future football symbols in road signs because the current symbol contain only hexagonal segments, which is geometrically impossible.

Matt Parker described the symbol as “a bit of a national embarrassment”.

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