Retail Tech Thursday: giving indie bookshops a vital revenue stream

Retail Tech Thursday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share all the most interesting and useful retail and retail technology news, innovations and trends.

This week, as the UK enters its second nationwide lockdown and bricks ‘n’ mortar retailers fear huge losses in the run up to the busy Christmas holiday season, we’re encouraged to see a great response in the media to the launch of the new independent online bookstore network, Bookshop.org. 

We also look at the latest thoughts across the retail industry on the ways in which smartphones can help retailers to navigate the new COVID-19 retail landscape. Plus, we check out the news on the new e-Voyager multi-feature interactive shopping platform that’s being developed to help the duty free and travel retail sector fast-track the digital shift in that industry being driven by the pandemic.

Giving indie bookshops a vital revenue stream

Firstly, it’s great to see Simon Jenkins over on The Guardian covering the good news that Bookshop.org launches in the UK this month, a new website that gives independent bookshops a vital new revenue stream.

“The UK opening on Monday of the Bookshop website is a blood transfusion for independent bookshops and one from which all retailers can learn. The website is a mail-order circumvention of Amazon, selling books under the flags of more than 130 independent booksellers. Buyers order their book at a slightly discounted price after “entering” their chosen front door on the site and the shop duly receives the 30% bookseller’s margin.

“The message is that high streets will not beat digital and must join it. Online and doorstep service can deliver a product but not the experience of choosing it. High streets are about walking, meeting, talking, drinking and being entertained.

“The clear message of Bookshop is that the pleasure of buying a book is not wholly satisfied by a tick in a box and a van at the door. It embraces a ritual, a visit to a temple of literature, an inhaling of bookishness, a survey of titles, a picking up, a handling, a browsing, a pausing to ponder, a chat with an assistant. A bookshop is part church, part club. People still want their books “live”.

Latest smartphone innovations in retail

EssentialRetail.com looks in depth this week at the latest innovation in the ways in which smartphones can help retailers navigate the new retail landscape.

“As of March 2020, eight in 10 people in the UK and US claimed to have altered their behaviours as a result of the pandemic, and looking at more recent data, it’s clear to see the challenges for physical retail,” writes Rob Bennett, CEO of Rehab.

“Roughly a quarter of Britons plan to make permanent changes to the way they shop in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis and more than half currently don’t feel at ease visiting stores that aren’t supermarkets.”

Citing the innovation on show at Nike’s flagship Nike Rise retail concept store in China and the new House of Innovation flagship in Paris stores, both of which bring the digital and physical retail experience closer together than ever before, Bennett looks at the latest innovation in virtual in-store assistance on-demand, augmented reality-powered ‘digital try ons’, in-store recommendations and ‘scan as you shop’ payments technologies.

“These possibilities aren’t exactly future-gazing; they’re all readily available, at our fingertips, and ready for implementation by retailers everywhere,” he explains. “If used properly, we strongly believe that they will spread, too.”

Innovation in duty free and travel retail

Finally, the duty free and travel retail sector gets a new interactive shopping app this month, with the launch of the e-Voyager multi-feature interactive shopping platform.

“A few months in the making, the new platform is designed to fast-track the digital shift in the industry driven by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic,” reports TRBusiness.com.

“Complete with a suite of e-commerce, user engagement and analytics features, the e-Voyager app offers a new way for customers to engage with retail content. The app will enable customers to ‘supercharge’ marketing strategies across the industry with tools to reach, captivate and convert audiences at every step of their journey.

“Shoppers will be able to browse, share, review and easily purchase items at home, on board or on-the-go. With an integrated augmented reality ‘Try-on’ feature, they will be able to test watches, make-up and accessories before purchasing.”