Will 2012 be a rich or a poor year for retailers? While the grim economical climate makes most people hesitant, as Gino Van Ossel (professor at Vlerick Management School) and Dominique Michel (Belgian trade federation Comeos) confirm in elaborate articles next week, retail watcher Herman Konings has another opinion: usually it is in the most difficult of circumstances that the best ideas and strongest innovations are born.
Multichannel is a must
We can be almost certain that innovations will come - and that they will come fast. Retailers are forced to use many channels, spreading not only through “bricks and clicks”, but also invading Facebook, mobile, games... Retailers better get used to the idea, because these new trends might be here to stay.
Another challenge for 2012 will be logistics: : rent prices are going through the roof and top locations are almost impossible to find, so the solution will have to be less space in the stores – and therefore smaller stocks. In comes, again, e-commerce: if the right colour or size of something is not available in the store, the consumer can simply buy it online and have it delivered at home...
Belgian internet operator Telenet went even one step further in 2011: their SmartSpots have direct videolinks with the headquarters, so the helpdesk can remain centralised while specialised personal assistance is available in every shop. In this era, where consumers with smartphones are often better informed than the staff itself, this is a very elegant solution to counter the problem – and an inventive way to combine online and offline...
Only the trustworthy will survive
The future belongs to companies that embrace the multi-channel approach, because while the internet will invade retail in every possible way, physical stores will have the benefit of an actual presence, which makes them more trustworthy than 'virtual' web shops. Online retailer Coolblue's decision to open physical stores, might be the best proof of this theory.
Insiders believe that only the 'pure players' like Amazon, who have already become a household name (and are therefore as trustworthy as physical retailers), will survive the next few years. When these trends, or theories, are beginning to spread throughout the world of online and offline retail, we will be there to cover it fully for you.
Best wishes for a beautiful 2012 from the RetailDetail team,