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Hello everyone, here are some of the things I’ve been reading this month.

Nicki 
Managing Director ustwo London, Lisbon & Tokyo

[Image: Inspired by the @gilest GDS posters and everyone else's, we created our own @ustwo one as digital working life isn't going anywhere soon.]
 

🖤 It’s our job to be comfortable being uncomfortable

As a white person with privilege and relative influence, I invite people to hold me to account, and I must stay uncomfortable. We have to do the hard work to ensure we start to dismantle the structural racism we have benefited from for years. 

Last week ustwo held a remote picnic (a session where we come together as Lisbon, London and Tokyo to discuss important topics) to talk about what we can do collectively as a studio. We will continue to: support community initiatives for underrepresented groups and buy from Black businesses; and we've set the goal of mirroring the demographics of the cities we work in. ustwo London is currently 6% Black, while the city is 13%. We have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s our job now. Black Lives Matter. We have work to do.

I’ve been reading:

Reni Eddo-Lodge: ‘The debate on racism is a game to some and I don’t want to play’ - her comment on intersectional feminism is absolutely spot on. 

For a few weeks, black lives mattered. Now what?

“Maam, are you safe with this man?” - my colleague Collin Lyons’ experiences of racism.

Hustlecrew’s talks and training make tech more inclusive

“It can’t go on. We must go further and faster.” - Manchester’s The Federation on anti-racism.

 

🚚  Retail trends: online accelerates

“Lockdown has been a catalyst for a great digital migration - online sales in the UK reached 30% of total retail sales (a level we did not expect to see until 2028)” - interesting, but bear in mind that this piece is from 11th June, a time which now feels about a thousand covidyears ago.

Some companies are growing their ecommerce businesses faster than Amazon! In online retail, it’s Walmart and Target. And in food delivery, Instacart is growing very quickly. The numbers are in this interesting ecommerce story by the New York Times. And delivery co DPD is adding 6,000 jobs to cope with online shopping demand.

And I see that some brands are trying out “direct to consumer”: Heinz to Home, and Pepsi and Kraft are also looking at selling direct. You can imagine that this might work well, if the brands are strong and selling direct offers both them and the shopper some additional value.

 

👕 Retail trends: strictly offline

When non-essential shopping opened on 15th June in England, the queues for Primark were massive. This is partly because people wanted to do something that wasn’t being locked down. And it was partly because Primark would’ve had lots of pent-up demand because it doesn’t actually sell online! Their rationale has always been that they sell their clothes at so slim a margin that online delivery wouldn't work, which sounds counter-intuitive because that’s exactly what A**z*n does, but maybe Primark’s returns rate is really high.

In a post-COVID world with queues and social distancing, it becomes much harder to maintain high volume footfall and transactions. So Primark may face some difficult choices. Maybe they’ll turn over the product range less frequently, allowing more product of one style to shift (so they might move from weekly to fortnightly new garment drops, say). Or they could invest in seamless digital purchase flow and find a logistics approach to make shipping infrastructure investment deliver returns in three years. But they are well-funded so might just try to wait out the retail recession and watch their competitors fail first.

If Heinz can put cans of beans in the post, maybe Primark can get tracksuit joggers sent to you. Reducing queues feels like a helpful thing to do, as well as being good business! 

 

🏠 Homeschooling inequality

Children locked down at home in the UK spend an average of 2.5 hours each day doing schoolwork, UCL says. But existing inequalities are being amplified: “We also found that a large proportion of children on free school meals - 20 per cent - have no access to a computer at home.” The educational risk is that the virus permanently bakes deeper inequality into the lives of disadvantaged children. Difficult to solve, but our UK governments should make sure that the pandemic response addresses these disparities.

 

💥 Digital transformation

"Kim encourages the Retail team to burn the existing backlog and begin a discovery into stores" - how the Footasylum set up a digital team in 2019 and started their retail transformation.

Action on Hearing Loss is staying remote: “We’ve decided it’s time to say goodbye to a large and fixed London office. We will reinvest the money that would have been paid in rent, business rates and utilities into delivering our purpose and rewarding our staff”.

 

↯ Quick bites

Let’s occupy technology with love.

“Editor > Settings > Inclusivity. Tick the boxes.” An inclusivity tip for Office365 users that’ll help you start overcoming your subconscious biases - shame that it is hidden away in the settings.

Every type of Zoom call participant, illustrated by cats

 

ustwo news and opinion

COVID-19 is the wake up call traditional financial brands need, by Anna Soisalo, our Strategy Director.

“Make, Learn, Change” is our guide to Agile working and how to do it both at an organisational and a personal level.


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