1. Online sales fall flat in January
Online sales growth declined by 0.4% year on year in January as consumers held back on spending. The slowdown comes after strong growth at the end of 2019, with online sales up 9.4% in December, and compared to January 2019, when sales were up 7%.
Beauty was a strong performer, with sales up 7.1% although this was down on an average rise of 23.3% in 2019. Online home sales were up 6.1% and clothing rose 3.1%.
Electrical sales plummeted, however, down 17.7%.
The forecast for online sales growth in 2020 is now 7.8%.
Source: IMRG Capgemini online retail index
2. John Lewis tops chart as the most recommended high street retailer
John Lewis has topped a list of the most recommended high street retailers, with 81% of its customers recommending the brand. This is the second year in a row the department store has topped the rankings.
Lush came in second, with 78% saying they would recommend the brand, followed by Healthspan and L’Occitane en Provence on 75%. Five of the top 10 are in the health and beauty space.
In high street fashion, Polo Ralph Lauren was the most recommended with 79% of customers recommending it to others. This is just ahead of Zara and Joules, both on 78%, and Fat Face, Asos and Ralph Lauren on 77%.
In general retail, Homesense and Ikea topped the rankings on 81%, followed by Screwfix and Toolstation with 77%.
3. Consumers open to brands augmenting or gamifying experiences
Two-fifths of UK consumers have used augmented (39%) or virtual (38%) reality to test or view a product they are considering.
A further 45% have used an app to motivate them to ‘stick to a personal goal’, for example to complete weekly exercise challenges. And 39% say they are ‘open to new challenges’, offering brands the opportunity to apply gamification beyond health and fitness.
However, brands should be aware of consumers’ approach to data sharing. While 58% say they are willing to share data with brands, up from 45% in 2016, brands should ensure consumers have clarity and control over their data.
Source: Data and Marketing Association
4. Low data literacy impacting brands’ use of data
Low data literacy is impacting brands’ ability to make the most of their data. Some eight in 10 businesses believe data is one of their most valuable assets but 78% say data debt – the cost attached to poor data governance – is a challenge, and 28% that it is a significant problem.
This data debt stems from a lack of data understanding, with two in five organisations saying individuals do not trust data insights. And this is impacting data initiatives as 66% say a backlog of data debt is impacting new data initiatives and 33% say they are not seeing the expected returns on their data investments.
To address the issue, 30% of companies have a formal data literacy programme in place, while a further 36% plan to establish one in the next year.
5. Almost half of UK workforce using WhatsApp for professional purposes
A survey of 1,200 UK workers found that 41% are using WhatsApp for professional purposes despite it being against the messaging service’s terms of service to do so.
That figure rises to 53% of those aged under 45 and increases to 58% among those who live in Greater London.
A small but growing number of businesses are banning the use of WhatsApp at work, saying it is not GDPR-compliant.