Throughout the last few decades, the emergence of a number of new channels has given consumers the opportunity to shop how, when and where they want. Developments have been rapid and have changed the retail landscape so dramatically that physical stores almost seem like a distant memory.
The growth of online
The internet was the first challenge brought to the store; the online sector saw rapid growth in the noughties as consumers gained confidence in the channel. As internet popularity grew and security made people more confident in making purchases the influence of the internet as a transaction channel developed.
Today, the internet has become more than just a convenient channel for research. With the growth of social media, websites now interact more with consumers, making them an important source of inspiration and ideas. Retail is now a multichannel environment in which the consumer has a range of choices concerning where to do their shopping. Services such as click and collect and order in store for home delivery are increasingly popular and improving convenience for multichannel shoppers.
Traditional channels continue to play a central role at all stages of the shopping process. Online is now used most frequently in combination with other channels. For example, a large number of consumers research on the internet and then buy in store; others prefer to order online and collect in store through ‘click and collect’ type schemes.
Retailers must now therefore ensure that they are providing customers with a seamless, consistent and personalised shopping experience.