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Online retail news in brief (7 February 2018)

By IMRG

Girl reading online retail news 7 February 2018 on tablet

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.

The war on plastic escalates

Asda has joined the ranks of the supermarkets vowing to reduce plastic use. Iceland, Tesco and Co-op have already made similar pledges.

Asda has promised to scrap 5p carrier bags by the end of the year, and in its café, replace plastic straws with paper ones, and introduce reusable drinks cups.

Environmental issues have increased in significance as a topic for media debate in recent months – putting pressure on retailers to have a greater focus on it.

The chatbot sommelier

Lidl has launched a chatbot on Facebook, which is designed to recommend wine pairings to shoppers.

The bot, named Margot, responded to a test enquiry by Essential Retail by suggesting that chicken tikka masala would be complemented by Mezquiriz Spanish Chardonnay, or Saint-Emilion Grand-Cru.

Margot can also list Lidl’s available wines, answer wine FAQs, and offer a wine quiz.

Amazon posts $60.5bn sales in Q4

Amazon’s sales grew by 38% year-on-year in Q4 (ending 31 December 2017), reaching $60.5bn.

Jeff Bezos stated, “We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa. There are now over 30,000 skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa, and we’re seeing strong response to our new far-field voice kit for manufacturers.”

JD.com agrees to sell £2bn of UK products in China

The Department of International Trade has agreed with JD.com that the Chinese retail giant will sell £2bn worth of UK products.

During the Prime Minister’s visit to China, she met with JD chief Richard Liu.

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JD will start with a ‘Celebrate Britain’ promotion to introduce more British Products to Chinese shoppers.

Royal Mail reaches agreement with CWU

Royal Mail and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) have settled on an agreement in principle on their dispute over pensions, pay, a shorter working week, culture, and operational changes.

They have agreed that:

  • The Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP) will close to future accrual in its current form on 31 March 2018
  • From April 2019, employees will receive a 2% increase in pay (including base pay, overtime and allowances) and a further one hour reduction to the working week from October 2019, subject to successful implementation of those initiatives.
  • The last letter delivery time will move back by 30 minutes to 3.30pm in urban areas and 4.30pm in rural areas

HMRC to phase in Custom Declarations Service

HMRC will be phasing in the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in August, to replace the 25-year-old Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

The process will begin in August 2018. HMRC offers the following guidance:

If a trader imports or exports goods outside the EU, they or their agent will be currently using CHIEF to:

  • process declarations for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU through ports and airports
  • calculate and pay the correct duty and taxes
  • complete customs information electronically

They will still be able to do these things on CDS, but there will be differences:

  • they will need to sign into CDS on GOV.UK through a Government Gateway account
  • CDS will offer several new and existing services in one place - for example, traders will be able to view previous import and export data on pre-defined reports, check the tariff, apply for new authorisations and simplifications, and check their duty deferment statement
  • online help will include self-service tools, guides and checklists

Superbowl adverts garner mixed reaction

Superbowl adverts are a much-anticipated fixture of the event. At $5m for a 30-second slot, brands want to make the most of their screen time. The results often vary.

US President probably won’t be shot into the sun

British writer Shaun Usher caused a Twitter storm after faking a tweet, which appeared to have been written by current US President Donald Trump in 2015.

twitter post for online retail news 7 February 2018

Usher posted the ‘tweet’ on the day the Dow Jones dropped well over 1,000 points, and after the President was inundated with requests to shoot himself into the Sun, Usher acknowledged that it wasn’t genuine, and claimed that he believed nobody would take it seriously.

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