Retailers: keep your focus on the physical store

BY Samantha Mimeran / 23 Mar 2016 / No Comments

Retailers are being led to believe that online is the only future for retail, but physical stores are still the vital ingredient.

The recent Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE 2016) – Europe’s leading retail event – had good news for brick and mortar retailers. Senior retail leader Terry Duddy, non-executive director of Debenhams and former CEO of Home Retail Group, told the forum that retailers are focusing too much on developing online sales instead of developing their stores. “The fastest growing online channel in the UK market is Click & Collect, which involves the store being central to the transaction. The store is growing in importance but is being neglected and misunderstood,” Duddy said.

He cited research from retail research agency Conlumino which forecasted that online sales would only increase from 13.1% to 16.7% over the five years to 2019, claiming that “by 2020 stores will be the focus for 87% of all retail sales from either transactions in-store or from collect from store for online orders”.

Duddy blamed the media for the misconception that online is the future of retail due to the way it reports online sales so positively, while the high street is supposedly struggling, quoting research from property consultants PMA showing retail space had grown 19% over the last 15 years with growth still in the market. “The media says there are lots of stores closing and this is true regarding some challenged locations but retailers have been closing smaller stores while opening bigger units in prime shopping centres,” he said. “Stores are the advantage many retailers have but it depends how they use them.”


Online sales are being overstated and retailers need to focus on their physical spaces, which will continue to be the essential factor for shoppers in the future. “City analysts will come around to this way of thinking as things play out over the next four to five years,” added Duddy.

While this is good news for retailers, it also means that retail physical spaces will need to become analytical powerhouses, with the shopper is their centre. These future smart stores will track and analyse every step of a customer’s path to purchase, ensuring what is known about the shopper online is now known about the shopper in-store too. Contact Beonic at to find out how.


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