Since Steven Petersen had to do an internship for in the third year year of his study Small Business and Retail Management that is active in the retail sector, he chose for an internship at Capgemini Nederland. This blog is one of the ways in which he sharing his findings for his research done during his internship.
On the 2nd of June Retailnews declared that the E-commerce approach of retailers is not the best approach.
With the rising of online shopping there is a growing bottleneck for traditional retailers. Their shops are attracting less customers, will they disappear when they are not anticipating on the developments online? What are the advantages of having more than one channel, can they possibly attract more customers? It sounds like a story of the future, but in America it is already a normal event that web shops are highly competitive against their offline competitors. So how can retailers distinguish themselves from others and also being a profitable multi channel retailer? In this report, there will be given an answer on the question: “How can retailers integrate their channels of communication, transaction and service (from the direction of processes, systems and organization). How far are the present retailers with integrating and where are their weaknesses and threats?”
To find an answer to the main question, it is divided in three sub questions. These questions are :
- What would be the ideal integration?
- What are the recent developments in the area of Integrated Multi Channel Retail?
- What are the bottlenecks of modern retailers?
After researching the subject came the awareness where retailers really dealing with. Integrated Multi Channel Retail is an unstoppable movement which already started his takeover of the Netherlands. Multi channel does not only affect the retail landscape but it plays a huge role in all sorts of companies. Like travel agencies, pension companies, airports and the authorities. Multi Channel is already among us, why did the modern Dutch retailers anticipate earlier to this phenomenon? Are the current retailers so modern? And how are pure online retailers anticipating on the multi channel experience? These are just some of the questions that have been raised since my research started.
The spoken retailers were thinking of online availability, most of the spoken retailers already had a web shop. The web shop was in several cases well thought out, but for some retailers this was not the case. These retailers had a web shop that was set up by the “youngest” employee. More half thought out and short term solutions were launched to at least have a web shop. The strategy, not only short term, is very important not only for the traditional offline but also for the retailers online strategy.
Another finding was that the online channel is overdone. Retailers were looking at internet as something they need to do. But this is not always the perfect solution, a food retailer needs far more adaption than an electronics retailer. The different organizations have different unique selling points. Organizations have to emphasize these in both channels.
During the interviews also online retailers (pure players) have been interviewed, they look at the integration of the different offline retailers not as a threat but as an opportunity. With more retailers going online the channel becomes mature and brings more people online. How can retailers look at a growing market and do not fear their competitors? All online retailers declared that their strength was the focus on their customer. When the customer is in the centre of their attention, retailers can really get to know them. Which means that they can to let go of their push strategy and aim more at pull services.
Another question arose during the interviews: is it really necessary for offline retailers to go online with competitors that have more knowledge of the customer, offer high services and give good prices? It depends per retailer, an endemically approach is probably the best in the beginning, but when customers demand online availability retailers have to start selling online. Let the customers decide what to do.
Above all, customers would like to see a trustworthy retailer who can offer knowledge and respects them as his customers. The customer is the heart of the retailers organization, without them there are no retailers. So retailers need to centralize the customers and really start listening, the solution lays not only on the integration. Even without multi channels, retailers have to collect information about their customers.
With concepts like a loyalty program, social media (social CRM) and open personnel, retailers can achieve a better bond with their customers. But if there is one important thing that is going to be more important in the future. Customer awareness, retailers need to be aware of an smarter customer with more interests and knowledge of prizes, deliveries and other customers. The future customer generations X and Y are represent with 96% online, an combination between offline and online selling will be a normal in the future, for now retailers need t
o anticipate and learn to know their customers.