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Retailers anticipate decline in physical store sales

17 April 2013
Retailers anticipate decline in physical store sales

Sixty-three percent of retailers expect sales in physical stores to decline this year, with just 7% anticipated sales growth, according to new research from Rakuten.

The findings were based on responses from delegates at this year’s Internet Retailing Expo. The research found that one in four respondents expect physical stores to become more like showrooms where shoppers browse in store but ultimately make the purchase online.

Three quarters of respondents cited international trade as a significant opportunity to increase sales, yet 25% noted fears in selling overseas with 28% airing concerns around e-infrastructure, including international payments and local language websites.

“There’s no question that shoppers still love that tangible branded shopping experience that the high street delivers so well, but this idea of showrooming is growing in popularity,” says Rakuten’s Play.com marketing director Adam Stewart. “Ultimately it’s about creating multi-touch shopping experiences and this extends online, from interacting with customers through social channels to providing a dynamic and entertaining digital shopping experience.”

The majority (69%) of retailers still rely on email as their main customer contact channel and despite the growing hype around social shopping, just 13% used Facebook and 15% Twitter.

“It’s interesting to see that few retailers are taking advantage of free social tools like Twitter and Facebook to engage shoppers,” adds Stewart. “It’s true that social is not for everyone, especially when you consider the resource required to run these channels effectively, but it’s a key part of delivering the multi-channel brand experiences consumers are fast coming to expect.”

Within the next 5 years, the amount of money spent online in the developed world will surpass expenditure in physical locations. These bricks and mortar retail transactions are being assisted by recommendation engines, content experiences and social comment. Are we in the midst of a transition that will see retailers becoming content companies and content companies becoming retailers? If so, what role will the media agency play? And, in the age of the algorithm, is the craft of media selling a thing of the past?

These questions will be addressed at The Festival of Media Global which takes place from April 28-30 in Montreux, Swizterland. Click here for more information about speakers and the agenda.

Related Stories:

Trust and reliability is key for global online shoppers
Social shopping surges across the globe
Opinion: What does the future hold for e-commerce?
East beats West on mobile commerce adoption

Jenni Baker, London

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