Even in the age of multichannel, 65 percent of Europear retailers interviewed said they believe the importance of stores is rising rather than diminishing. However, eight out of ten believe online is the top distribution model for the future.
The survey found that the humble store will continue to serve as a hub for retail engagement with “connected” consumers. Ongoing competitive pressures and the widespread adoption of smartphones will force retailers to combine the efficiency of online, while at the same time delivering a good in-store customer experience.
It echoes the findings of a recent Google survey, which concluded smartphones are slowly starting to improve the shopper experience both at home and in actual retail stores. In other words, retailers cannot afford to ignore either component of their multichannel approach. Fujitsu’s survey also stresses the importance of a unified view of all customers across all channels, on top of technology innovations designed to deliver new multichannel solutions.
Retail managers in some countries believe the importance of stores is going up, especially in France and to some extent in Italy, which is also betting on hypermarket and supermarket models. However, German retailers believe online shopping is currently more attractive to their customers. In the UK, however, there is a greater balance across all models.
“It is clear the store remains the shopping ‘hub’ for the majority of consumers across Europe, but the store operating model is changing rapidly to meet the needs of the multichannel shopper.” said Richard Clarke, Vice-President, Global Retail at Fujitsu. “Fujitsu helps retailers to achieve this goal by simplifying their technology deployments and radically increasing agility and customer intimacy.”
Although e-taliers and m-commerce are still on the rise, the study found that traditional retailers are still convinced there is plenty of room for brick-and-mortar stores in the future of retail, no matter how connected it might be. However, service is slowly becoming a key value-add for the store, and some hybrid services such as click and collect are also emerging. Interestingly, British retailers lead the way when it comes to their confidence in traditional stores and their role as a shopping point.