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Stores and the high street essential to multichannel retail: report

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Stores will play a ‘critical part’ in a multichannel future, where customers will want to buy wherever and whenever suits them, says John Lewis managing director Andy Street.

Writing in a new report published today, The Multichannel High Street: winning the retail battle in 2015, Street says the the winners in retail will be “those who correctly anticipate the changing nature of customer demands.”

“Stores,” he says in the report foreword, “will be increasingly critical in the omnichannel race – but not just any shops.” He says his own department store group is expanding its estate of shops from 42 to about 65 as it follows “the customer who wants to be inspired, wants to be social and wants to be advised in store.”

The report, from Kantar Retail and law firm Squire Patton Boggs, found all the retailers it questioned in the course of the research said physical stores would be an essential part of their future offering. “Where the retailers differed was in their point of view over the direction of travel for physical stores in the future: 46% suggesting they will need fewer stores in the future and 54% asserting that the opening of more stores will figure in their strategies in the future,” said report authors Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights, Kantar Retail, and Matthew Lewis head of the global retail group at law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

The study also found 77% of shoppers researched online before they bought in-store, while 50% preferred to order online with retailers that have stores, and 22% said they wanted to see wi-fi available in stores.

Meanwhile, 50% of the retailers polled were investing in technology in order to use their data better, and 62% were considering installing free wi-fi.

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