European countries approach omni-channel differently

European countries approach omni-channel differently

For ecommerce players, having an omni-channel approach is getting more and more important as customers continue to demand ever-higher levels of service. This requires retailers to adapt new models and be everywhere the customer wants them to be. Specific approaches to omni-channel however, differ widely from country to country.

That’s one of the things LCP Consulting found out in the ‘The Omni-Channel Journey‘ report. In its third annual omni-channel research report, the consulting firm focuses on the omni-channel transformation, the benefits of this retail approach and Black Friday, but also on how some countries in Europe handle omni-channel. Because every country does this different. “Some of this is to do with technology. Some is to do with infrastructure. Some is cultural.”

Germany is familiar with omni-channel
In Germany for example, retailers are generally very familiar with the definition of omni-channel but still has some way to go to offer it in practice. With big online players like Zalando, Amazon and eBay looking to think beyond the boundaries of the digital world, other retailers can’t stay behind. They are working on delivering multi-channel retail services with properly developed websites and important functions in-store, such as online reservation and total view of stock and pricing. “With 60 million smartphones in Germany, it’s clear that the omni-channel future will be driven by mobile”, LPC Consulting writes.

Omni-channel in Spain and Portugal
Spain and Portugal are also seeing more and more omni-channel business models, but there is a difference between these two Iberian countries. Spain is far more advances in terms of ecommerce and omni-channel. That may have to do something with the presence of Amazon. Consumers in Portugal still tend to order from Spanish or UK websites.

Also, the move towards omni-channel in Spain is more customer-driven than in Portugal, the consulting firm states. “Spaniards tend to browse the internet before going to physical stores where they are more comfortable. In Portugal, despite having superior broadband, the cultural norm of buying in shopping malls has a strong hold over consumers.” At the same time, it seems click and collect is becoming more prevalent in Spain. It quotes Miquel Aguas, the CFO of retail company Sonae: “In Portugal, you have one very big retail player offering e-commerce. But then you have number two not even having an e-commerce platform – and that just doesn’t happen in Spain – everyone is offering that service.”

Scandinavia lacks store network for omni-channel approach
In Scandinavia, brick and mortar still rules. There are very few signs of full blown omni-channel or multi-channel retailers. “Where it is emerging, it’s in response to customers wanting greater convenience, time savings and lower costs.” When a retailer wants to start being an omni-channel player, he needs of course a decent store network. But in Scandinavia most retailers don’t have the density of sites to make this work. “There’s a lot of hype about omni-channel, but I don’t see a mature model yet. Customers want convenience and if it has to be convenient then it needs to be local. But most retailers don’t have the store network needed”, says Lars Syberg, supply chain director at Zebra.

Poland looks abroad for its omni-channel business
LCP Consulting also looked at Poland, which is said to evolve from a multi-channel approach to an omni-channel model. “Polish retailers closely watch what’s going on in the rest of the world”, it writes, thereby saying they are influenced by omni-channel initiatives elsewhere. “Amazon plans to enter the Polish market within the next two years and this is sure to drive retailers in an omni-channel direction.”

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