New report shows digital retailing is the 'way of the future'

Published on: 2015-02-05

This news according to The Retail Bulletin:

With internet sales expected to account for almost 20% of turnover by 2012-15, and websites becoming increasingly transactional rather than informational, we are also likely to see a rise in the application of technology within the retailer community. As a result there will be a rise in automated self scanning, product tracking for inventory using RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) and targeted promotions delivered directly to consumers while they shop. In addition they are likely to have access to PC/web based facilities in store giving immediate access to product and customer reviews.

According to 'The Store of the Future 2012-2015', a report by the Centre for Retail Research, if we fast forward seven years, the fate of the high street seems uncertain with over one quarter of retailers (28.7%) expecting a drop in store numbers. Store formats are likely to change with 70% of retailers expecting to introduce new formats and more information services by this time.

Customers will be able to order on the website and pick up items in stores whilst smaller stores may focus on services and information rather than holding large inventories. Automated self scanning begins to loom large on the horizon with over 22% of retailers expecting to introduce this in some form. RFID tags are likely to be introduced by 34% of retailers to help them make better use of product inventory management and in the future used to offer customer promotions, whilst almost 50% or retailers expect to use technology to send customer targeted promotions using demographics and loyalty card information using email and texts.

Our take:

Brick-and-mortar retailers have been trying to figure out how to get the most value out of related web assets for as long as the consumer-friendly Internet has existed. Recent efforts by Barnes and Noble and Wal-Mart are finally starting to yield integrated plays where items purchased online can be picked up and returned at the store, etc., while other retailers like The Home Depot still keep separate inventories, stocks, and policies for their online and offline sales channels.

However, common sense says that the researchers' findings are probably correct: as people come to regard the web as simply another channel for communication and commerce, there's no reason to think that they will treat it differently than any other. The retailers that benefit the most will be those with the tightest integration between their various marketing and sales channels.  Everything from automated SMS messages to call-outs on in-store digital signs will need to be coordinated, and while we've yet to see this level of integration in the real world, rest assured that it is coming, soon.

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