Retailers see ‘click and mortar’ as way to beat Amazon

Retailers see ‘click and mortar’ as way to beat Amazon

9:39am EDT

By Emma Thomasson and Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) – Traditional stores can take on e-commerce and keep their major role by reinventing themselves faster to best combine shopping in stores and online, top retailers said on Tuesday. Despite the challenge from players like Amazon, 68 percent of retailers say stores remain the most important channel for shoppers and one in three plan to expand their footprint, according to a survey by the Australian Centre of Retail Studies released at a conference in the French capital.“I am totally convinced that click and mortar is the future,” said Georges Plassat, the head of world number two retailer Carrefour, referring to the combination of online sales and shopping in stores.

He told the three-day World Retail Congress that more than two thirds of his group’s sales are still in-store.

“There is a dream for people working purely in the Internet that they will be delivering everybody on a daily basis a liter of milk. This is totally a dream and could become a nightmare because of the cost of energy.”

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire said Europe’s biggest home improvements retailer is overhauling store layout and using space for events like do-it-yourself classes.

“I can’t realistically outrange Amazon. What I can do is make my range better curated and framed,” he said.

Kingfisher staff also suggest items to people collecting online goods, like brushes and dust sheets with paints, he said.

STORE FOOTPRINT

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store firm, is a major retailer which is still expanding stores.

“Customers want to combine pure online with visiting stores. Stores have a big role to play,” Mark Lewis, head of John Lewis Online, which already accounts for more than a quarter of group sales and is expected to eventually hit 40 percent.

Lewis said more than two-thirds of sales involved stores and online, such as collecting Internet orders in-store, researching online or scanning items with smart phones to read reviews.

Not all players have responded to the Amazon threat as fast as John Lewis, whose early move into e-commerce helped it weather the recent downturn better than rivals.

“Retailers who thought they were protected are having to respond,” said Tony Stockil, head of retail consultancy Javelin.

Graham Cooke, head of Qubit, which helps firms analyze their website traffic, said many retailers still had to remove artificial barriers between online and offline businesses.

Simon Calver, the former head of online movie rental firm Lovefirm, now turning around British mother and baby products retailer Mothercare, has been overhauling stores as showcases and theatres of products, most of which he said are researched online before a shopping trip.

“There will always be stores,” he said, adding he sees under-served pockets of Britain where Mothercare could still open branches, even as it slashes total shop numbers.

Jacques-Antoine Granjon, boss of French e-commerce firm Vente-privee.com, said formerly pure online players were having to learn from traditional retailers and predicted that fashion e-tailer ASOS would eventually open its own stores.

“It is the end of pure players, they are finished,” he said. “The future is multi-channel and cross-channel. E-commerce is just a new distribution channel.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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