A NATION OF ONLINE SHOPKEEPERS?
20 March 2017Napoleon reputedly said that we are a nation of shopkeepers, however contrary to popular belief, the phrase did not originate with Napoleon and was first coined in “The Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith” in 1776.
Much has changed within the retail landscape since the days of Napoleon and Adam Smith. We now live in a world of click and collect and same-day home delivery. The internet and e-commerce have undoubtedly changed the retail industry and a recent survey by edelivery.com reported that 72% of UK shoppers use click and collect.
For established retail giants such as John Lewis, online purchases accounts for roughly 40% of sales across the UK, so it is clear to see the impact e-commerce is having today on consumer spending today.
However, a consequence of this demand is that customers now have increasingly high expectations regarding shorter and shorter delivery times. One can expect to order an item online in London and have it delivered within one hour which raises obvious questions regarding this type of delivery operation becoming unsustainable. The preferred method for retailers should logically therefore be click and collect which is expected to make up 35% of total sales by 2018.
So what about the customer shopping “experience”? Well, the physical store is still integral to the retail landscape and plays an important role in consumer behaviour. This is probably best illustrated by former online-only retailers such as Oak Furniture Land and Sofa.com now trading from physical stores throughout the UK. Also, let’s not forget that some customers simply enjoy the experience of shopping and its social element which is enhanced by retailers such as Apple with their modern fit-outs and high tech stores. Amazon’s stores include digital price tags which let the company change the price of its products instantly. The theory is that if a competitor altered the price of a certain product then a retailer with a digital price tag could respond accordingly. This is just one example of what retailers are now doing to offer customers unique and engaging concepts that would not be possible without a bricks and mortar presence.
Retailers constantly have to adapt and respond to ever changing consumer sentiment. It’s what they have always done and always will do if they want to stay ahead of the game. It is clear that e-commerce makes up a large part of overall retail sales and this is a trend that is only going to continue, and while the “nation of shopkeepers” description may no longer ring true, having a physical presence in high footfall locations is always going to appeal to retailers - of that there is no doubt.