Online isn’t just here to stay – it’s taken up residence and changed the locks. But how is our industry handling the transition to a post-pandemic landscape of heightened ecommerce adoption, and any appetite for greater digital integration in-store? Paul Farley asks around …
The developments of the past two years have put paid to any notion that ecommerce is somehow an optional diversion for any serious retailer. In the wake of the pandemic’s digital sales boom, online revenue growth fell back to a modest +2.7% YoY in 2021, its lowest gain in 22 years, reported IMRG/Capgemini. But set 2021’s performance against 2019’s, and you have an astonishing +39% increase.
Given the tactile nature of our industry, there’s a good deal of argument that the ‘bricks’ will be the more substantial part of any ‘bricks-and-clicks’ equation, and that the effective merging of the two is increasingly the retailer’s biggest challenge.
So, what is the right mix for today’s consumer, and what does the future hold? Do interactive features such as live chat, social commerce, VR and AR (see December’s issue for more on that) promise to truly bring online shopping experiences to life, or is greater automation and better fulfilment the real battleground? And can independent furniture retailers really compete with the digital giants?