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‘Retailers have to go omnichannel if they want to grow further’

‘Retailers have to go omnichannel if they want to grow further’

Pure online shops need to evolve into an omnichannel retail business if they want to grow in the future, an omnichannel expert from Denmark says. Physical retailers need to have an online store if they still want to make profit in the near future, an omnichannel retailer from the Netherlands says. They are probably both right.

One of the people saying online retailers who have transformed themselves into omnichannel can grow more than pure players, is Kasper Holst, an omnichannel expert who works at digital agency Impact. “This year has been a wake-up call for retailers. They have realized the necessity to adapt to omnichannel retail”, he says. “Here it is vital to look at the supply chain, warehouse and logistics. Because drastic changes are necessary. In a successful omnichannel strategy order picking, customer service, delivery and return have to function across all channels.”

‘Physical store still the main channel’
The Dane thinks the physical store is still the main channel. “They are really good for impulse purchases, which represent up to 20% of all trade. In addition, the human interaction in a store is significant to the customer service experience. The physical store is also an important tool for the online shop because it represents a delivery and return alternative for the online shop’s customers.”

‘Retailers need to change their approach drastically’
But having only a physical store won’t do it either, says Pieter Zwart, co-founder and CEO of Coolblue, a major Dutch retailer that started as a pure player but now has five physical stores across the country. He said brick-and-mortar stores should stop muddling along. “If retailers don’t change their approach drastically, no store will make a profit by 2020”, he said.

Zwart thinks retailers should stop doing things that don’t add any durable value. He compares the current situation with the boiling frog: if a frog is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. “In a few years, who wants to still take the car to the city, get stuck in traffic for a parking garage and put 16 euros in the parking meter?”, he asks.

The entrepreneur thinks people underestimate the social consequences of these changes. It’s just a matter of time until self-driving cars will take over the jobs of truck drivers. “And what will these people do? We are talking about fathers who work hard to feed their families so their children can study.”

‘Omnichannel retailers are gaining market share’
According to Steffen Pasgaard, vice president of EDI-Soft, omnichannel is still a way of differentiating yourself, although it’s simultaneously also expected by consumers today. “More and more online shops are going omnichannel and offer click & collect via their own stores, and this puts pure players like Amazon, under pressure. In return, retailers who combines offline sales in department stores with online sales, are gaining market share.”