Multi-Channel Shopping: Online vs. Bricks & Mortar Retail

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Multi-Channel Shopping: Online vs. Bricks & Mortar Retail

In-store shopping is a place for discovery, whilst we venture online for our replenishment needs – and so the big question remains: ‘what does this mean for the future of convenience vs. hypermarket?’


A new report, British High Streets: from Crisis to Recovery? (by Neil Wrigley and Dionysia Lambiri of Southampton University) offers the explanation that due to there being so many perceived advantages of shopping online, shopping in the ‘bricks & mortar’ stores is no longer about the basic necessity of shopping, but about the experience of shopping. This means that, in order to survive, the retailers in the bricks & mortar stores must continue to find new ways to make the shopping experience valuable.

The report emphasises the concept of the ever growing ‘convenience culture’ which, combined with increased levels of Internet retail is changing the way that people shop.

When it comes to ‘multi-channel reality’, the report indicates that some retailers are struggling to keep up. This doesn’t mean that the concept of ‘physical space’ is dying out, but there is a real demand for significant alterations to how floor space is used. New technology trends show that retailers need to “focus on people and not on devices”, and so technology should be used to once again focus on the consumer and providing a personalised service to them.

The forecast for 2019 suggests that around a quarter of UK grocery sales will come from the convenience store sector, whilst superstores and hypermarkets will not only cease to dominate – but will begin to collapse. With ‘Experiential Shopping’ promoting consumer enjoyment, whilst increasing dwell time and spend – the shopping experience is a valuable asset.

It comes as no surprise then, that ‘internet shopping’ and ‘bricks & mortar shopping’ are in no way the same – but ‘bricks & mortar’ retail still seems to be the better way to introduce shoppers to new brands and products.

The report’s data shows that multi-channel retail is nowhere near where it should be, and so it’s a waste of time attempting to incorporate this behaviour into shopping strategies. Retailers are better off coming up with new, multi-channel business modes that focus on the shopper.

When identifying today’s shopping needs, it’s pointless using past research and findings – they’re in the past for a reason. Things are evolving so quickly that yesterday’s news is irrelevant – you need to stay ahead of the game to stay in it.

I’m Phillip Adcock, author of ‘Shoppology, The Science of Supermarket Shopping’, and Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd (SBXL) – a company that specialises in analysing shoppers and shopping for some of the leading brands and retailers in the world.

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