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Re-defining retail in a multi-channel environment

People love tradition since it reflects reliable, well known experiences and memories. But sometimes, this becomes an obstacle when people are confronted with new things. The more complex these new things are the more people tend to think and judge them in a black and white manner. People often simplify this to a decision of what is right and what is wrong, or who is a friend and who is an enemy.

This line of thinking is reflected in the quote: “Internet kills the traditional trade”.

Throughout the last decade, too many manufacturers and retailers adopted this mentality and went to great lengths to work against the Internet.

However, if they had put the same amount of effort into figuring out the huge opportunities the Internet offers, some of the discussions on this would be redundant and some of these players would have performed better.

In many cases it is the change of paradigm which makes it so difficult to grasp the opportunities of the digital world. Owners and managers tend to have everything under control and they know best how to handle situations. With the Internet however, control of its communities, communication and information facilities is not what they have been used to over decades in the analogue world.

Now, it is important for companies to take advantage of the Internet and use their expert staff to share the responsibility of utilizing its features within their organization. They must also use their talents to express that they have to give space and chances to new people who can help them a lot in this migration process.

Among the most important success factors for retailers are shop location and high customer traffic. Worldwide, there are now more than 2.1 billion people connected to the internet, meaning there are many places, platforms and communities for retailers to penetrate.

Encouraging sales in 2011 have highlighted the growing success of Internet purchasing throughout Europe*. Year to date figures (January – September) have shown there has been an overall increase in consumer spending online, with internet sales accounting for 15% of the total technical consumer goods (TCG) market**, which includes products such as LCD TVs, digital cameras and mobile phones. Germany, France and the UK are the main drivers of this trend whereas countries in Southern Europe, primarily Spain and Portugal, are not still not performing as well in this area.

In today’s retail environment, the ability to operate on multiple platforms is fast becoming the blueprint for success – now, more than ever, it is essential for retailers to multi-task between traditional and internet sales. The demarcation line between offline and online will disappear and a so called “omni-channel approach” will rule the game, covering all aspects of how consumers want to inform themselves, want to be serviced and how they want to shop. Since there is no “one fits all” recipe, every single retailer should decide where they want to focus their activities within an omni-channel approach.
Being aware of this competitive environment is also vital for success and for reacting to new challenges. However, in some industries, this attitude has become lost with regards to the internet.

Established retail organizations must adapt to the new environment or they will speed up their way to the end of their lifecycle.

Communication behavior has also changed dramatically. Therefore, communication and information can no longer be steered and controlled by the business as a one way message; it must become a constant multiple exchange amongst all participants.

To become a global player in this ever changing market, businesses must look to expand by implementing an international and national omni channel growth strategy.

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