ASOS and Boohoo buying UK Fashion High Street Shops highlights Online Shift for Future Of Work


As the news broke of online fashion retailers ASOS buying Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge and Boohoo purchasing Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton – iconic British high street brands that have seen sales tumble due to the Covid-19 crisis – a clear shift to online shopping, especially among the younger generations, represents a key change for the future of work and online retail.

The Pandemic accelerates the Online Shift

2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic took the world by storm, and most, if not all, of the players in the economy were caught off guard. Among the different sectors, retail shopping has also suffered a harsh blow. 

The lockdown regulations meant shops were closed. And the London high street was deserted for months. Even after the vaccination drive has begun in the UK, the market hasn’t picked up a normal-like pace. 

So, is London high street shopping dead? Or is shopping in general just shifting online altogether? 

Who will be the ultimate winner post-pandemic? 

Before we find that out, let’s take a look at where everyone stood before COVID.

The Rise of Ecommerce is not an overnight Success Story

Ecommerce is not a COVID period trend. It has been here for years and gained popularity especially among the younger buyers. Online sales made up for 2.8% of total retail sales in November 2006. That was when the online shift was just starting. 

The online sales figure stood at 21.5% in November 2019 clearly showing a steady growth. And in October 2020, online sales constituted 28% of total retail sales with a clear indication that the Covid pandemic has accelerated the online shift.

Since 2007, 556 retail businesses have crashed, and 39,100 stores were shut down. All because shoppers were shifting their shopping online.

The digital lifestyle revolution was already underway, and the pandemic only made it more noticeable. The high street was surviving only on the lean thread of slightly older customers in their 30s and above being habitual of going out and splurging. 

How does Online Shopping impact the Future of Work?

According to the ASOS deal news reported in the Guardian, the UK online retail giant that has been around since 2000 and has had an annual revenue in 2019 of £2.573 billion, will take over 300 staff, but 2500 jobs are at risk. ASOS employed 4000 staff in 2019 and this number can only rise with the new acquisition. Boohoo has also reported that “the deal includes the brands and online businesses, but not the 214 shops nor 2,450 workers employed in them” according the BBC

However, many people believe that the online shift costs jobs. But the question really is: if the shopping doesn’t disappear, but rather shifts, why do jobs disappear and not shift?

Based on this question, Manuela Willbold, online media strategist at ClickDo Ltd. and educator in London analyses in this video why these jobs are not necessarily lost and everyone losing a job in the current climate should explore this online shift to find new career opportunities.

The Future of Work is Now!

The OECD highlights that the Future of Work is now on their website. The OECD, which is an organisation that was founded after the second world war by the European Economic Community to rebuild Europe’s economy, makes these bold statements about the future of work:

Digitalisation and globalisation have sparked radical shifts in how we live and work. The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has accelerated these beyond anything we could have imagined.

The OECD also highlights the importance of life-long learning in this statement:

People will need to learn not only at school but throughout their lives.

It is vital for any individual, no matter their background, age or ethnicity, to learn digital skills to remain attractive in the job market. As jobs shift online through our behaviour change enforced by technology, we need to adapt.

Learn Skills that bring Results for Future Employment

ASOS’ success story can be attributed to their brilliant internet marketing strategies.

ASOS have built a huge following on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook where their products gained huge popularity through likes and shares. In 2008 alone nearly 10% of sales could be directly attributed to email marketing according to their annual report so one can image how much this would be today.

Boohoo have invested £55m in buying the Debenhams website. Now, if this move doesn’t indicate where the true value of today’s retail industry lies, then one must be in denial.

ASOS have also managed to utilize the ‘Instagram Stories’ feature extremely successfully, encouraging users to upload videos of purchased ASOS products with the #AsSeenOnMe leading to 3 million people interacting with the video in the UK alone.

This highlights that jobs are not lost in general, but shift into a new market: the online market. New remote work jobs emerge such as social media account manager, blogger and content writer, email marketer and that is where demand is growing. Many UK businesses such as ASOS will rely on smart digital marketing strategies and employees that can deliver these.

You can read more about the impact of the online shift for businesses at the UK Tech Blog and for the education sector at the UK Education Blog. At SeekaHost University we teach digital marketing skills that ASOS uses to drive sales such as social media marketing plus SEO.

Read more about why you should learn digital marketing today and learn more about SEO and digital marketing at the ClickDo blog. Watch related videos at the SeekaHost YouTube channel to understand what the future of work is all about: