SURVEY: Store will remain customer hub
Pan-European retailer survey finds bricks and mortar will retain its strategic importance as the central touchpoint for engaging with connected customers
A new survey has just revealed the results of a major new survey that reaffirms the changing but enduring importance of the retail store.
found that, despite the rise of online and mobile commerce across Europe, the
store will continue to be the hub for retailer engagement with ‘connected’
to a new survey of European retail management commissioned by Fujitsu and
conducted by independent researcher Novametrie, ongoing competitive pressure is
forcing retailers to combine efficient processes with the delivery of a valued
customer experience – whether instore, online, or via smartphone.
pan-European retail survey was designed to explore the future of the store in
such a multichannel environment, including store-specific challenges, such as
driving sales and managing people, the importance of a unified view of
customers across all channels, a tend what technology innovations will be
needed to facilitate multichannel services capable of delivering valued
customer experiences at a competitive investment level.
findings were based on independent research carried out via 20 qualitative
interviews with senior managers in retail businesses across the continent, including
France, Germany, Italy and the UK during November and December last year. These
were followed by 161 quantitative interviews during January and February 2013.
the findings, nearly two thirds (65%) of retail managers who took part in the
study believed that the importance of stores has increased significantly within
Europe. This was particularly the case in countries such as Italy (74%) and
France (68%), where the research said High Street culture is as strong as ever.
preferred to clicks
though overall, online shopping is considered the most attractive distribution
model from the perspective of retail customers today (72%), there were wide
national differences which suggest that ‘bricks’ have not been entirely
replaced by ‘clicks’. For example, German retailers currently find online
shopping most attractive to their customers (81%), while Italian respondents in
particular said ‘hypermarket and supermarket’ models remain the most attractive
(78%), closely followed by ‘city-centre urban shopping’ (71%). The research
also found there was a greater balance across all models in the UK.
So, despite the ongoing rise of e-tailers, the Fujitsu study found that most traditional retailers were convinced that brick-and-mortar stores have a place in the future of retail. Although there were widely varying views on what the store of the future will look like.
Varying future store visions
Stores seem likely to remain the place where retailers can realise the ‘physical’ brand experience for the shopper in a way that complements and is consistent with the ‘online’ and ‘mobile’ brand experience. Overall, the store was still the fundamental shopping channel for retailers and their customers across Europe. However, its role and operating model are changing rapidly to meet the needs of the multichannel shopper.
research claimed that service is becoming a key ‘value-add’ for the store –
including online and instore hybrid services such as click and collect.
Overall, 86% of respondents defined the most important role of stores as a
place for service – this was particularly true in France where the figure jumps
leads the way instore
national differences saw UK retailers considering a store’s role as a shopping destination
as being most important (91%), while for the Italians exposure to the brand was
key (88%), and Germans had a more balanced view of the range of roles a store
Fujitsu report said these results demonstrated the importance that instore
experience plays in product discovery and sales associate interaction, while
providing retailers with the opportunity to provide a differentiating ‘wrapper’
around their offerings to convert customers to buy, rather than losing out to pricing
based competitors alone. However, when it came to rating the importance of
distribution models for the future of their businesses, on a scale of
attractiveness from 1 to 10, online shopping still lead overall, scoring nearly
8 out of 10.
Clarke, global vice president of retail at Fujitsu, commented: “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. Service – in terms of both experience via sales, associate interaction
and process efficiency via models like click and collect – is becoming the
competitive value-add for the store.”
Clarke added that Fujitsu is helping retailers to achieve this goal by simplifying their technology deployment while increasing agility and customer intimacy.