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Future for omni-channel retailers tops discussions at BRC event

Future for omni-channel retailers tops discussions at BRC event
Thursday March 6 2014

Retailers must constantly developeand adapt their omni-channel sales strategies, according to the UK’s leading retailers who spoke during this year’s British Retail Consortium Omni-channel Retailing conference.

During the event retailers including House of Fraser, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Argos, discussed various aspects of omni-channel evolution: from the effectiveness of different m-commerce channels, mobile-only customers and  intuitive online user experience, to “beyond the screen connectivity,” fulfillment and digital in-store enhancements.

“In non-food, almost one in five pounds is now spent online, and up to half of the visits to website are through mobile devices. Those statistics are quite interesting, but are they in fact the right way to look at it? Because one thing that is completely for sure is that the customer doesn’t care. They are absolutely agnostic about which channel it is that they are using at any particular point and time,” said Helen Dickinson, ‎Director General of the BRC.

“How do you, or how should you these days be looking at the channel profitability? Is this the right way, or is it about product profitability, in which case: how do you measure that? Or actually customer profitability, and how do you measure that?” she asked.

The retailers noted that although omni-channel is inevitably progressing, it is not yet defined, as technology constantly provides new incentives to grow. When asked about incorporating mobile technologies, such as NFC, at stores, Andy Harding, Executive Director of Multi-channel at House of Fraser, said that the technology-supported engagement with a product is a great opportunity for retailers, but more importantly, it brings enormous value for customers.  

According to Gareth Jones, Group Retail & Strategy Director at Shop Direct, the “always on” shoppers of the  future will buy at smart, connected areas, expanding beyond the physical store or the screen of a tablet or a mobile phone. Yet, as Jon Rudoe, Director of Online, Digital and Cross-channel at Sainsbury’s, pointed out, even in the face of the changes, physical stores will still be an important part of the “retail theatre.”


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