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Amazon retains crown as ‘digital-only’ upstarts power retail growth

A wave of digitally-savvy, internationally-minded upstarts are powering growth in the retail sector, according to the latest International Retail Index– which sees Amazon crowned as the highest-performing retail brand for a second consecutive year. The influential report,  is commissioned and carried out each year by Loqate. 

After benchmarking 30 top retail performers by brand recognition, global presence, online capabilities, and volume of sales, this year’s report highlights the rise of ‘borderless’ commerce as retail shifts from the high street to digital-first. Four of the top six in this year’s index are ‘digital-only’ (Amazon, ASOS, Boohoo.com, Zalando). And, while the index focuses on retailers in the UK, US and Europe, the report cites online giant Alibaba as another strong performer – it would knock Amazon off the top spot, if benchmarked with the same criteria.

The report offers a number of other key findings, including:

  • The Famous Five: Five of the fastest-growing retailers included – Amazon, ASOS, Boohoo.com, Gymshark and Paul Valentine – are also the only five companies offering express delivery across borders. This is becoming a ‘must-have’ in the competitive eCcommerce market
  • Going ‘glocal’: The index found a 50/50 split between those brands offering international delivery from their core global site (such as Marks & Spencer) vs. those redirecting consumers to a relevant local site (such as H&M)
  • Borderless eCommerce: Despite challenging geopolitical conditions, two of the top 30 companies (H&M and IKEA) now bring in at least 90 per cent of their sales from outside their home markets
  • Retailers embracing voice-assistants: Of 30 retailers in the index, almost half (14) now have an official partnership with Alexa or Google Assistant, reaching over 2.5 billion digital voice assistant users
  • Next day beats out click & collect: In the UK, for example, 63 per cent of consumers opt for the ease of same or next day delivery over collection

Matthew Furneaux, global commercial director at Loqate, a GBG Solution, said: “The findings of this year’s International Retail Index are clear: digital, borderless, on-demand experience is becoming the new normal in retail. While Amazon has retained its crown, what we see is an emerging group of ‘digital-first’ and even ‘digital-only’ players reshaping expectations among consumers. It’s also remarkable to see leading retailers such as IKEA find huge success outside their home market – with 90 per cent of sales coming outside of Sweden. Perhaps there are lessons here for British retailers, as they look to future-proof their businesses in the wake of geopolitical uncertainty.”

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