BBC Radio 4: The Business of Clicks

Sep 10, 2019

In an interview with the BBC, UK Partner Duncan Brewer reveals that high street retailers and supermarkets often accept slim or no profits from online sales in order to secure customer loyalty to their brand.

Retail has been adapting for decades to the needs of consumers: where once a shop assistant collected the items on your list from the back room, today customers can select which product they want themselves. For example, a shopper can choose exactly the colour of banana that best suits their tastes.

Online shopping is a continuation of this consumer demand for meeting niche requirements: "People are saying the one-size-fits-all model doesn't work, and a retailer that offers them precisely what they want is where they will go." The internet also provides easy price comparisons and makes it easy to shop across multiple brands, cherry picking the best offers.

To avoid being the next failed highstreet brand, Duncan advises retailers to ask themselves what their unique right to survive is, and look at how they can minimise the operational costs of fulfilling online orders, which eat into profit margins. 

Click here to listen to the full programme, where Duncan features from 11:30 minutes onwards (BBC login required).