Any Other Business: 17 April 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB looks at European consumer trends, the rise of the robots, and how an outdoor adventure brand is thinking creatively to keep customers engaged.


The robots are here

As the pressure on supermarkets remains high, one has a secret weapon helping it stay afloat. Online grocery retailer Ocado1 has invested heavily in automated technology in recent years – an investment being put to the test in the current climate.

Within its customer-fulfilment center, sophisticated delivery robots are picking and packing customer orders. With maximum speed and efficiency, the robots navigate around the warehouse grid to pick from over 55,000 different products, enabling Ocado to handle tens of thousands of online orders a week.

Some industry analysts have predicted that robots will be involved in more than three-quarters of the retail sector’s logistics operations in the near future; and McKinsey estimates that by 2025, autonomous vehicles will make up to 80% of deliveries. Robots also have the potential to play a leading role in inventory management and pricing.

Read more about the Last Mile Delivery Revolution – and what it could mean for your e-commerce business.


E-commerce gives direct sellers a lifeline

Direct selling may conjure up retro images of Tupperware parties and fifties housewives, but the industry has since expanded to include a wide range of product categories. In the UK, 34% of the population have bought products this way, making the sector worth over £2.67 billion in annual retail sales.

The Direct Selling Association2 says many of its members have reported a surge in sales in recent weeks, as they move their business models online in response to the lockdown – hosting digital parties for groups of friends and family.

Andy Smith, general manager for Amway UK & Ireland, which sells health and beauty products, has seen a 30% increase in product sales this March compared to last year: “Our expectation is that current [online] growth trends will be sustained as consumers look to shop from home during the current lockdown, but with the personal advice and recommendation that this form of retail is famous for.”

If you’re looking to move your business online, our Golden Rules of E-commerce will help you get started.

Dakine heads indoors

It may be a brand built around the outdoor lifestyle, but Dakine3 is not letting the lockdown dampen its sense of adventure. The company, which sells apparel for the snowboarding, surfing and biking communities, is staying engaged with customers by hosting a weekly digital series of ‘Mind Surfing’ classes, to wait out the lockdown together. Viewers can watch Dakine brand ambassadors put down their surfboards and skis to host live cooking, yoga and art classes from their homes.

For tips on how to navigate your digital business through the COVID crisis, read our article here.

7-Eleven helps customers stay at home

In Australia, 7-Eleven4 has begun trialling an online delivery service of snacks and household items. It is utilizing the platform of Tipple – the on-demand alcohol start-up it invested in in 2018 – to fulfill the last-mile delivery, in a set up that was rolled out in less than a fortnight.   

The retailer, which has over 700 stores across Australia, will initially offer the delivery service in Melbourne. Most customers will be offered next-day delivery, but in some suburbs, delivery will be available within the hour.

Check out our e-tailer guide to discover the importance of offering your customers a range of delivery options. 

Europeans change their buying habits

A new Kantar5 survey of consumers in Europe’s three largest online retail markets – the UK, France and Germany – found that the share of people who undertake 50% or more of their total purchases online has grown by up to 80% during the pandemic. What’s more, it seems these changing shopping behaviors are here to stay for the long term – six in 10 consumers intend to continue buying as much online once the virus has passed.

Though the current focus of e-commerce spending is on essential items like groceries, 80% of respondents say they will return to shopping for non-essential goods later in the year, with 50-60% planning to spend in the clothing and home electronic categories.

If you’re looking to sell to the European markets – or beyond – our free E-commerce Country Guides are packed full of tips.