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Rethinking the Role of the Store


Dusan Rnic, VP Oracle Retail, UK & Ireland comments on how retail now needs to combine its online and physical shopping channels to survive in today’s marketplace…

Today’s consumers don’t view a store, its website and its mobile site as individual channels. They simply expect a seamless experience when interacting with a retailer, no matter which or how many of these platforms they use. The role of the store is evolving to match this behaviour. Stores have become as much service centres, collection points, showrooms, and even places for shoppers to simply hang out as they are points of sale. 

Fashion brands in particular are expected to be innovative in the way they interact with customers both on and offline. One way in which some of the most successful ones have differentiated themselves is through a well-orchestrated click & collect service. For instance, since rolling out its click & collect offering River Island has seen online sales via mobile devices jump to 70%. Within a week of its implementation, 40% of transactions were going through the service. 

The success of River Island is linked directly to its understanding of how the physical store has changed in the consumer’s eye. The aim of retailers is to give shoppers the guidance they need to make a purchasing decision. Whether they buy a product right away in-store or at a later time online is of less importance.

To achieve this, the experience of shopping online or on mobile needs to be as easy as the in-store one. And yet, a significant proportion of brands have yet to adapt their websites to that end. A recent study suggests the websites of nearly half the top 50 high street retailers do not have a responsive design suited to mobile or tablet users.

The high street is still adapting to the new shopping habits of today’s “commerce anywhere” generation. Rather than penalizing themselves when customers shop online rather than in-store, retailers should explore services such as click & collect, which elevate the in-store experience and can even drive more online sales. Just as crucially, they should focus on making purchase, delivery, after sales service, and returns equally convenient regardless of which combination of platforms their customers use. 

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