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Six game-changing initiatives shaking up retail right now


Retail Gazette Awards - The Game Changers

From Covid to the cost-of-living crisis, retail is tough right now, but businesses across the sector continue to innovate and find new ways to prosper.

That is why Retail Gazette launched The Game Changers, a set of awards to recognise businesses that are taking risks, blazing trails and transforming retail. The deadline to enter the awards is tomorrow so if you’re doing groundbreaking things, let the world know about it in our free-to-enter awards.

There are many ways retail is being transformed by game-changing innovations right now. Retail Gazette shines a light on just a few of them.

Tesco Clubcard Prices

Tesco has transformed the loyalty card as we know it by giving customers the most compelling reason to sign up – exclusive low prices across its product every day.

Tesco Clubcard Prices logo

The UK’s largest grocer introduced Tesco Clubcard Prices in September 2020, offering its loyalty card holders lower prices, of up to 50% off, hundreds of popular brands.

In fact, all of Tesco’s promotions are now done via Clubcard.

Clubcard Prices are now displayed across its retail stores, alongside the price for non-members, which hammer home the benefits of signing up to the scheme and shopping regularly at Tesco. In fact, 

Retail Analyst Bryan Roberts, founder of Shopfloor Insights, has described the scheme as “the best loyalty scheme in the world right now”.

The initiative has certainly driven membership and usage of its Clubcard. The retailer revealed in its full year results that more than 20 million households have a Clubcard and the number of regular Clubcard app users has increased more than fourfold over the last two years to 9 million.

The increased take up of Clubcard is beneficial to Tesco as it can attain a greater wealth of data on its customers which it says give it the insight to be able to “understand and anticipate customers’ changing needs”.

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said late last year: “Against a backdrop of profound change, Tesco has many unique advantages. Our ability to reward loyalty through Clubcard enhances our relationship with customers.”

Clubcard Prices is so powerful that even Amazon is trying to ride on its coat-tails, launching a price match against the scheme this week.

Retailers becoming marketplaces

Marketplaces are one of the fastest growing parts of retail, with strategy consultant OC&C forecasting that online marketplaces will account for around half of all online spend by 2025, in what it terms “the largest fundamental shift in consumer spending since the emergence of ecommerce in the 1990s”.

B&Q is one of many retailers that have launched their own marketplace
B&Q is one of many retailers that have launched their own marketplace

Retailers are sitting on their laurels and allowing the likes of Amazon and eBay to steal their share. Instead they are getting in on the act and launching their own marketplaces to boost their product range and win further spend online.

Kingfisher-owned B&Q has launched an online marketplace as it looks to expand its ecommerce division to include over one million home, DIY and garden products.

The DIY retailer is creating “a one-stop shop for your home”, and strengthening its foothold in key categories such as lighting, power tools and wallpaper.

Meanwhile, Superdrug has signed over 200 brands to its marketplace, which will launch in September.

Enter the Retail Gazette Awards: The Game Changers today

Retail Gazette Awards - The Game Changers

The deadline to enter the Retail Gazette Awards is 22 July. We’ve made the entry process super speedy so it’s not too late to submit why your company should win.

Free to enter, and free to attend for all shortlisted firms. Make sure you’re in it, to win it.

If you’re changing the game in retail, let the world know – click here to enter.

The rise of resale

Resale has been a big trend in fashion with shoppers seeking secondhand goods. Many retailers have jumped on this trend, including many fast fashion players, as a way to give products a second life, reduce waste, and drive sales.

Whereas the likes of Net-a-Porter, Harvey Nichols, Clarks, Dr Martens, New Look and M&S have partnered with platform partners, others including Urban Outfitters, Levi’s, Joules, Hugo Boss and AllBirds have gone it alone and launched their own resale platforms.

Even fast fashion titan PrettyLittleThing (PLT) is getting in on the act.

PLT is moving away from throwaway fashion culture with its Marketplace launch and “elevated collections”
PLT is moving away from throwaway fashion culture with its marketplace launch

The etailer is set to launch a Depop-style marketplace this year for shoppers to resell pre-worn clothes as it encourages shoppers to move away from throwaway fashion.

PLT creative director Molly-Mae Hague told Retail Gazette earlier this year: “It’s not going to be just PLT pieces – you can sell pretty much anything on there, which is obviously encouraging sustainability hugely.

“It’s encouraging girls to think ‘this is actually in really great condition I don’t need to chuck it away why not encourage someone else to buy it’.”

Checkout-free stores

Queueing may be known as a distinctly British trait, however, it is one that puts off many shoppers from making a purchase.

The queue at the checkout is no more in some stores, however, with the rise of the checkout-free shop.

London's checkout-free grocery stores
Checkout-free stores are growing in popularity

Pioneered by Amazon, which launched its first checkout-free Fresh stores in the UK last year, customers can simply scan their Amazon app to enter the store, pick up items they want, and walk out without paying.

Sensors on the shelves detect when an item has been removed whilst cameras and other AI technology monitor the shopper’s movement and the goods chosen.

Amazon is licensing its technology to third parties with retailers including Sainsbury’s and WHSmith launching their own checkout-free stores using the technology

However, many retailers have launched their own versions of the Amazon Fresh store. Both Tesco and Aldi have launched their own checkout-free stores in London and Morrisons is understood to be testing its own technology at its headquarters before rolling it to stores.


Virtual shopping

The pandemic was a big stimulus for innovation as retailers searched for ways to serve customers when stores were closed. Currys’ ShopLive was one such innovation.

The service allows customers to chat to Currys staff in-store using a video link to get advice and see product demonstrations.

Currys ShopLive
ShopLive allows Currys to serve customers face to face 24/7

It proved popular with shoppers and is a mainstay of Currys now restrictions have been lifted and stores reopened.

Currys says it sees “higher customers satisfaction, stronger conversion, and larger average order values” than unassisted online shopping.

The initiative also allows Currys to serve customers face to face 24/7, not just within store opening hours, and gives it the potential to serve shoppers from around the globe.

Currys is not the only retailer to have embraced virtual shopping. John Lewis, Watches of Switzerland, and Wren Kitchens have also started offering virtual consultations.

Rental retail

Rental is not a new phenomenon in fashion but mainstream retailers have embraced the model in a bid to boost both sustainability and sales.

M&S is one retailer that has stepped into rental. Working with specialist HireStreet, 40 items from its summer collection are available to rent, making it perfect for shoppers looking for something special for events like weddings or holidays.


M&S managing director of clothing and home Richard Price said: “At M&S our focus is ensuring our product is more relevent, more often for our customers’ lives – that’s not just what we offer but how.

“We know customers are increasingly interested in the circular economy and rental, which is why we started our exciting partnership with HireStreet last year.”

Other retailers that have embraced rental over the past year, include John Lewis, Fenwick, Decathlon, and Harrods.

French Connection has even launched its own on-demand rental service on its website earlier this year, which it claims is the first time a major UK retailer has offered such a service direct.

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