Digital retail: will offline sales die? - Beyond Retail Industry

2015 – 2020: European cross-channel retail sales

According to Forrester’s report, more than half of European retail sales will be impacted by digital over the coming 5 years. According to the report, “the value of cross-channel retail sales in Europe will reach €704bn (£498bn) by 2020, up from €457bn (£323bn) this year”.

Retailers need to understand the importance of digital presence and pay particular attention to a cross-touchpoint  customer journey to drive sales online and offline. Nowadays consumers are adopting digital technologies for online search of products, the sale itself is not necessary completed online, but in-store. “Twenty-one percent of European online adults regularly research products online, even though 26% do not regularly buy online. Online research sources have surpassed magazines, TV, and even physical stores for product discovery”. ( Which is why it’s crucial to use digital channels to encourage product discovery.

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Michelle Beeson, the report’s author, states: “For many retailers over half of all online traffic comes from mobile devices, like smartphones – yet, smartphone conversion rates are considerably lower. (…) eBusiness leaders must consider their digital assets as part of the whole customer-lifecycle, rather than simply channel by channel,” and furthur “Digital touchpoints have a significant influence beyond online sales. In fact, by 2020, Forrester forecasts that digital will influence 53% of total retail sales in EU,  including a combination of online sales and offline sales influenced by online research.”


What is the future of retail?

What is the future of retail?” inquires Kavi Guppta, Forbes’ contributor, and responds: “ECommerce will emerge as a dominant player in retail sales. (…) This won’t mean the end of physical retail stores, but it will mean rapid transformation in the way retailers view logistics and customer habits as technology increasingly influences both”. According to him, there are 4 major trends that might influence our shopping habits in the future: virtual and augmented reality, cashless shopping, Internet of Things and sharing economy.


1) Will virtual reality and augmented reality replace the brick and mortar experience?

Not necessarily, thinks Kavi Guppta, because even if more and more customers are getting interested in this kind of experience, virtual shopping can’t replace the tangible aspect of in-store purchase.

2) Will shopping become cashless?

“A cushless future is inevitable”, states the article’s author, however most customers don’t consider a cashless payment system as safe enough.

3) How will the Internet of Things (IoT) transform logistics?

Connected devices try to predict by learning people’s consumption habits, what type of products they might need in the nearest future. However, according to Acquity Group, 87% of consumers are still unfamiliar with the term “Internet of Things”. There is a large room for improvement to convince customers of its utility.

4) Will the “sharing economy” be the end of retail?

“It’s absolutely untrue that what the tech industry has dubbed as the “sharing economy” will displace the retail industry”, affirms Forbes’ author. “Uber, Airbnb, and other services provide fantastic options for specific needs customers have, but they’ll just be one facet of a new retail landscape”.


Learn more about the latest retail trends at MAPIC 2015


Top image credit: nmedia

About Author

As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for MIPIM and MAPIC shows, as well as MIPTV/MIPCOM (TV industry) and Midem (music industry). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

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