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Mobile web to drive in-store sales up as shoppers turn to web for research, suggests pan-European report

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By 2018 almost half of European retail sales will take place in stores – while firmly under the influence of the internet, driven my mobile use in store.

Forrester’s European Cross-Channel Retail Sales Forecast, 2013 to 2018, published this week, suggests the proportion of cross-channel consumers – who buy in stores following online research in the store using either a sales assistant’s tablet computer or the customer’s own smartphone – will increase in the future.

Indeed, by 2018, it predicts, some 44% of in-store sales will have been influenced by the internet. Already, it says, such cross-channel sales are more lucrative than online-only sales. For every €1 spent online, €5 is spent in-store following online research. It calculates that cross-channel sales accounted for €539bn, or 31% of total European sales in 2013. By 2018, it says, they will increase to €920bn, 44% of total European retail sales.

The UK plays an important part in this, it says, with 72% of cross-channel sales currently coming from the UK, France and Germany. The report predicts that key cross-channel categories by 2018 will be household appliances, toys, electronics, computers and sports equipment.

How should retailers respond? Forrester’s recommendations include embracing ‘frenemies’ such as Amazon by advertising to gain exposure on its site, engaging with online consumer ratings and reviews in-store by offering wi-fi, ‘threading’ mobile influence throughout the customer lifestyle, whether that’s and measuring cross-touchpoint attribution throughout the customer journey.

“The near-ubiquitous connectivity of mobile devices, and smartphones in particular, gives shoppers a personalized and connected shopping aide in multiple contexts along the path to purchase,” said report author Michelle Beeson. “eBusiness professionals need to optimize their customer journey to take advantage of the ‘mobile moments’ in which a customer needs service or information and uses his mobile device 
to obtain them.”

She cites the example of German product information site Barcoo, whose smartphone app enables consumers to scan product bar codes and access independent information.

The report provides a useful counterpoint to research out last week from O2. That document, researched by Conlumino, suggested the high street would drive 89% of online sales by 2020.

Image: Shopper and assistant consult and in-store digital screen at Argos’ Old Street, London, store.

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