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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : October 09, 2013

Despite online, mobile top retailers plan more stores

Some of the world's largest retailers dismiss the demise of physical stores and plan to increase their footprint. More than two-thirds say stores remain their most important shopping channel.

by Helen Leggatt

Huge retailers such as Carrefour, John Lewis and Kingfisher aren't letting the likes of Amazon or online and mobile shopping beat them down. Instead, one in three plans to expand their footprint, according to a recent survey by the Australian Center of Retail Studies.

In fact, 68% say that their brick-and-mortar stores continue to be their most important channel, with up to two-thirds of sales taking place in-store. Head of the world's number two retailer, Georges Plassat, believes "click and mortar is the future".

Jacques-Antoine Granjon, head of French e-commerce firm, goes even further saying that the end is nigh for pure play retailers. "They are finished," said Granjon, "the future is multi-channel and cross-channel. E-commerce is just a new distribution channel".

Retailers' belief that stores will continue to play a significant role is highlighted by the fact that many of the outfits surveyed (58%) plan to expand their footprint in their domestic market while 55% plan to expand overseas.

Kingfisher chief executive, Ian Cheshire, is realistic. He knows that an engaging in-store experience is the key to differentiating his physical stores from the likes of Amazon.

"I can't realistically out-range Amazon. What I can do is make my range better curated and framed," he said, adding that his in-store staff proactively suggest additional products to people visiting the store to pick up online purchases.

Ultimately, mobile and online sales remain important and this will grow. Over half of the retailers (54%) expect their online sales to grow 'significantly' over the next couple of years, and 39% expect 'significant growth' in mobile sales.

Tags: brick-and-mortar, ecommerce, High Street, m-commerce, retailer trends, store staff

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