UK Online Non-Food Sales Increased in March; Intermarché Cooperates with Shopopop

RetailTechNews rounds up some of the biggest stories in the European retail technology space. In this week’s edition: Above Average Growth For Online Non-Food Sales; Intermarché Partners With Shopopop For Shopping Delivery; New Name For Metro’s Tech Offering; and Lidl Opens Tech Center in Bulgaria.

Above Average Growth For Online Non-Food Sales

March has seen an uncharacteristic growth of online sales of non-food products. That is one of the findings of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. Last month, online sales of non-food products increased 7.9%. A year ago, the growth rate was 6.6%.

The latest figures is also above the 3-month and 12-month averages, the report points out: The 3-month average showed a growth rate of 6.6%, while for the last 12 months, the growth rate came in at 7.8%. The online penetration rate increased from 20.6% in March 2017 to 22.0% in March 2018.

“March was difficult for large parts of the UK retail industry. Seemingly endless cold weather dissuaded would-be shoppers from the high street and a number of retailers delivered bad news,” says Paul Martin, Head of Retail, KPMG: “Retailers with an online presence were far more fortunate, with a marked lift in all categories. The cold weather clearly persuaded shoppers to peruse from the comfort of their own homes, with beauty and clothing grabbing the most attention.”

In March, total UK retail sales grew by 1.4% on a like-for-like basis from March 2017. On a total basis, sales rose 2.3% in March, against a decline of 0.2% in March 2017. The growth averages for the 3 months and 12 months prior were 1.8% and 1.9% respectively. However, the sales figures may have been positively distorted by the timing of Easter, the report points out.

Intermarché Partners With Shopopop For Shopping Delivery

French retailer Intermarché is collaborating with Shopopop, a private delivery platform. The two companies are testing their delivery cooperation in a number of pilot stores – with a view to extending the offer to all Intermarché locations if successful.

The scheme allows crowdsourcing for home deliveries from nine stores in the Bordeaux region of France: While shoppers purchase items online, they can have the delivery processed by other individuals who pick up the purchases and deliver them to the shopper’s home for a small fee. A similar concept has already been pioneered by Amazon since 2015.

French start-up Shopopop has already been working on the concept since 2016. The partnership with Intermarché, however, could be their break-through. Intermarché runs almost 2,000 stores in France. Currently testing in and around Bordeaux, the companies are going to assess the results of the pilot scheme in the early summer and decide whether the crowd-sourced delivery option will be expanded to Intermarché customers nationwide.

New Name For Metro’s Tech Offering

The IT arm of German wholesale retailer Metro is getting a rebrand. Continuing its digital transformation, the retailer’s tech offering will be called Metro-Nom from 1 May 2018.

“Introducing Metro—Nom as a new Metro AG company is an important step for us”, says Timo Salzsieder, Metro AG’s CIO and MD of Metro-Nom. “We are implementing the digital transformation by developing IT solutions for 25 Metro Cash & Carry countries and working on technologically exciting and international projects.”

After founding a software development hub, the reorganisation and rebrand is yet another indication that the retail giant is reaching out to become a tech-player in the area of food and wholesale. For Metro-Nom, the company is now recruiting tech personnel in Berlin and Dusseldorf.

Lidl Opens Tech Center in Bulgaria

Another German food retailer reaching out to the tech community is Lidl. The discounter has just announced it is opening another digital IT center of its own after establishing three previous tech locations in Germany, Romania and Spain.

Focussing on research and development in the area of online retail, Lidl is planning to build their new tech center in Bulgaria. The technology developed in Bulgaria is to be implemented in all markets which Lidl is currently operating in. The company is operating over 10,000 supermarkets in Europe alone.

For the new Bulgarian IT center, Lidl is planning to recruit 120 staff.