Survey says ‘retail is retail’ no matter where the sale is made
Online, mobile, in-store — it’s all the same as far as consumers are concerned, according to retailers survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester.
“Retail is retail regardless of where a sale is made or how the product is delivered,” said Mark Mathews, vice president for research development and industry analysis for NRF, in a statement. “Products ordered online are increasingly picked up in-store or shipped from a nearby store, and digital technology being used at bricks-and-mortar locations lets retailers help customers find what they want or make the sale even if the product is out of stock. Traditional retailers have seen the opportunities of online selling for years now, and those selling online increasingly see that stores are part of the key to success.”
Survey respondents included pure-play e-tail (32 percent) and multichannel retailers (57 percent). While store closures have been making headlines — yesterday’s Toys “R” Us announcement that it plans to close all 735 of its U.S. properties serving as a case in point — NRF and Forrester found that 43 percent of brick and mortar retailers plan to add locations this year, while only 16 percent expect to decrease their numbers.
Omnichannel efforts have made stores more important with retailers using them as pickup locations for online orders and also as shipping hubs for home delivery. Twenty-one percent said in-store pickup was a priority for their businesses, while 15 percent sited ship-from-store.
“The physical retail store is not doomed as many think it is,” said Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “Smart retailers understand that the two go hand-in-hand, but customer-obsessed retailers will continue investing in areas like omnichannel to provide customers with the seamless on and offline experiences they expect and now require.”
Retailers are placing an increased emphasis on technology to help them better connect with consumers. The study found personalized shopping experiences was a priority for 15 percent of store-based merchants, while 12 percent were using tech to better enable associates to serve customers in stores. In a hopeful sign, 61 percent plan to spend more training employees to provide better shopping experiences for customers.
- NRF/Forrester Survey Shows Merging of Physical and Digital Retail – National Retail Federation/Forrester/Business Wire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does the reality at retail demonstrate that companies understand that channels do not matter to consumers and that seamless shopping experiences are a competitive necessity? Are there any elements of the NRF and Forrester research that give you hope or concern for the retail industry in the near- and long-term?