Saturday, May 03, 2008

Report says digitized retailing is becoming more prevalent

According to The Centre for Retail Research's latest offering entitled 'The Store of the Future 2012-2015', over a quarter of high street retailers (to use the British turn of phrase) expect they'll need to close down some of their bricks-and-mortar locations within the next five years in order to cope with changing demand and increased use of the Internet by customers. Further highlighting that trend is that 70% of retailers plan to introduce new formats and more information services in the same period, for the same reason, as noted in this article from Retail Bulletin:
According to Dr. Steve Perry, Executive Vice president, Visa Europe: "The critical role that converging technologies are going to play in shaping the retail space of the future is clear for all to see. The study shows that while changes may occur over a relatively short time period, the Store of the Future is likely to be shaped by a range of technologies in the digital era, but all will have a common goal - to create greater convenience for the customer and in turn achieve stronger differentiation and business success for the retailer."
Clearly mobile marketing is becoming the bridge between traditional online and offline assets, and it may be the catalyst that finally drives more retailers to implement fully-integrated inventories, service offerings and corporate policies that would allow the consumer to, for example, universally do their shopping online and pick up their orders in-store. Far too many retailers continue to have problems implementing even the most basic cross-channel marketing programs and policies. For the longest time you couldn't shop on pick up at Barnes and Noble, or even get store personnel to order you an out-of-stock item via their own website. Many of today's retailers continue to have problems integrating loyalty programs and gift cards into their e-commerce platforms, despite the fact that all of these things have existed for well more than a decade.

The in-store experience is still important to a lot of shoppers. Product interaction, in-person customer service and social interaction are still powerful forces that drive people to bricks-and-mortar stores. But the convenience of online shopping is hard to beat, and many retailers aren't doing themselves any favors by continuing to treat online shoppers and real-world shoppers differently.

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