The 12 months of Charged: a festive rundown of the past year


And just like that it’s nearly over! 2021 marked another eventful year in the retail technology space, from the metaverse and NFT craze to Amazon’s rapid expansion of its till-free technology via its Fresh stores. 

We took a look back at the top tech stories from the past year…

Primark’s refusal to go online could mean “the start of the end” for the beloved brand

In January, analysts across the industry questioned Primark’s continued insistence to not launch an ecommerce brand, despite taking a £1.1 billion hit.

They warned that the retailer’s hard-headedness could be the “start of the end” for Primark and the brand could suffer irreparable damage if it refused to explore ecommerce options. 

Ocado voted one of the UK’s worst digital experiences

February saw Ocado being voted as having the second worst online experience of all UK supermarkets, according to a damning survey by The Grocer

The report looked at supermarkets’ websites, apps, social media and email communication, with the only supermarket only beating Budgens. 

READ MORE: Amazon slammed by GMB for ‘shameful’ number of injuries

Nike severs ties with 7 more retailers including Urban Outfitters and Macy’s in latest DTC push 

In March, Nike announced plans to cut ties with several major retailers including Urban Outfitters, DSW, Shoe Show, Macy’s and more as the sportswear giant seeked to capitalise on direct-to-consumer, first party sales. 

This decision gave the retailer a much larger slice of the profits made on every item. 

Sainsbury’s could soon be bought by private investors as billionaire buys £300m in shares

April saw rumours that Sainsbury’s would be the next major supermarket to be bought out in a private takeover deal, after a leading investor bought £300 million in shares. 

The speculation came about after the billionaire owner of Vesa Equity Investments increased his company’s stake in the supermarket by 9.99%.

Waitrose to introduce online delivery charges for the first time in its history 

In May, Waitrose announced it was introducing a delivery charge to customers, for the first time in the supermarket’s history. 

The grocer explained the move was to bring it in line with the rest of the market and cover the increasing costs of picking and packing. 

READ MORE: The 5 rapid grocery delivery brands that have come out on top this year

Tik Tok sees 553% growth in shopping as social media becomes new retail battleground

June saw TikTok’s shopping skyrocket by 553% during the pandemic as “social commerce” became the next major battleground for retailers. 

TikTok leaped ahead of rivals such as Instagram and Facebook as its platform grew exponentially over the year. 

Iceland becomes first UK supermarket to shut stores amid ‘pingdemic’ crisis

Iceland said in July that it had become the first UK supermarket to be forced to close stores because of the so-called ‘pingdemic’ staff shortage crisis.

Iceland had revealed that over 1000 of its staff have been told to self-isolate after being pinged by the NHS track-and-trace app for coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

Lidl to launch new self-scan app ‘Lidl Go’

In August, Lidl announced plans to launch new scan-as-you-shop technology allowing customers to scan and pay for items using their smartphones.

The new technology, understood to be called ‘Lidl Go’, would be rolled out at a Lidl store in Fulwell, southwest London, as part of a new pilot.


Nike to lose 160 million pairs of shoes after factory closure in Vietnam

In September, we reported that Nike was on the cusp of losing the production of 160 million pairs of shoes after the closure of a factory in Vietnam due to a Covid spike.

The sportswear giant announced in July that manufacturing in Vietnam had to be paused after the Delta variant was sweeping through the country’s communities.

THG sees shares plummet over 20% to all time low as investors shun retailer

The Hut Group saw its share price plummet to record lows wiping billions off its value in October, as the company went ahead with plans to separate its different business arms.

THG, which owns a raft of ecommerce brands like Myprotein, Lookfantastic, Glossybox and Illamasqua, has seen its share price drop by over 20 per cent in the last five days ended 4 October.

Amazon opens second 4-star store in Westfield shopping centre 

The month of November marked another Amazon store opening. This time, a four-star store location in London’s Westfield shopping centre, a month after its first store in Bluewater.

The shop will offer an array of around 2,000 top selling items from Amazon’s ecommerce marketplace that have a rating of four stars or above.

Meta takes aim at Shopify with leaked shopping plans

To close the year, December saw Meta reveal big plans to take on its ‘frenemy’ Shopify as it aims to get more users to do shopping through its platform.

The parent company of Facebook announced changes to its direction to focus on selling more products directly through its already existing apps Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

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