‘Bricks and Mortar’ retailers with no omnichannel strategy face closure
Issued by: Fehraad de Nicker on behalf of Italist - Mar 15th, 13:43
Brands and ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers need to leverage their in-store assets and move into the world of e-commerce with an effective multichannel approach to sales that offers a seamless shopping experience to customers - both physical and online or face serious sales declines or closure.
This is according to Diego Abba, CEO of Italist, the world’s largest online marketplace fully dedicated to Italy’s luxury multi-brand boutiques, who was in SA this week as one of the keynote speakers at the Seamless e-commerce conference in Cape Town.
“While traditional retailers are feeling the heat with shoppers’ visits to retail stores declining, online retail is thriving. Stats show that retail sales through digital channels are cannibalising in-store sales,” he says.
He continues: “The obvious answer is to combine the physical with the digital, in what is called an omnichannel strategy, combining the live experience of the physical channel with the convenience of anything, any time of the digital experience.”
On the key advantages of the physical store, he highlights the relevance for a consumer to have the ability to feel and try the merchandise.
“Conversely, on the digital front, it is very difficult to substitute the advantage of global reach of buying online and the easiness of finding data on products and peer reviews, to make the best purchase decision.”
Moreover, he points out that there is the need to rethink the store network presence in territories and how the physical and digital stores are linked together. “In fact, what happens in many cases is that the digital has been an add-on to the physical and not a true integrated distribution model,” Abba says.
“The real truth is that omnichannel is hard and requires rethinking the whole supply chain and logistics, in order to properly serve the physical and digital demands, with the eventual introduction of direct-to-consumer fulfilment, while optimising the management of inventory, balancing speed, predictability and reliability with cost,” he adds. “It also requires full utilisation of big data and analytics.”
In the digital world, Abba says that the ‘traditional’ way to engage with customers changes completely. “The needed focus is on the interactive relationship with the customers that means usually ‘mastering’ social media. Also, it becomes essential to master search tools, starting with the implementation of an optimal Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy and efficient campaigns on vertical search tools.”
He adds that it is pretty obvious that in this constant evolving scenario of integration of physical and digital, new retail models will emerge.
“Our model at Italist is to have basically an unlimited offering, very fast product discovery and zero inventory cost. We do this with our marketplace for established multi-brand luxury retailers.”
In just two years, Italist has grown exponentially and has acquired a loyal global customer base in over 85 countries offering more than 750 brands. “This highlights both the site’s credibility and the demand for an online marketplace for luxury goods,” he adds.
He says that SA is set to be a great market for Italist – (it has only just officially launched here) with an initial average spend of $800 per customer.
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