A report out today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) looking at how and where consumers splashed their cash in December, found that one in five sales during the month were online. The report – which includes sales made online via smartphones as online sales – also found a 19.2% growth in Internet purchases from a year earlier. This is the fastest increase for four years.
The report prompted an interesting debate on @BBCBreakfast this morning, which considered how people’s shopping habits had changed. One thing is for sure; multi-channel has officially arrived. It’s been a buzz word for what feels like forever, but in the face of this report and its impact on retailers financial results show that it is now the best adjective to describe how we research and purchase goods.
Whilst previously there were concerns that the Internet could lead to the demise of the high street, it would seem that our much-loved brands have different plans. Certainly the high street will change, but it still plays a big part of retailer’s plans. Brands such as Argos, John Lewis and House of Fraser are confident that the high street is the right place to be – but it all comes down to the experience you offer. A key element of this is how you integrate online and offline. John Lewis was the first to market with Click and Collect and has reaped the rewards from this.
But it isn’t just about launching convenience services. Increasingly it is becoming accepted that purchases will be made via laptops, smartphones and tablets – an assumption given credence by today’s BRC report – and that the high street will become a show room for retailers goods and services. This provides consumers with the ease of Internet shopping that they love with the assurance of having seen the product ‘in the flesh’.
Such changes in consumer buying behaviours open up new opportunities for affiliate marketing. As a channel that is able to reach consumers both on and offline, we have something to offer the future of retailing. As stores themselves become more incentive savvy, this has great affinity with the voucher and incentives ideology of the short tail. Retailers that take advantage of this and combine them with geo targeting are likely to see not only more footfall and traffic, but also more sales. Anecdotal evidence from our clients suggests that the more channels a consumer uses to buy goods from a retailer, the more money they spend.
Today’s report doesn’t mark the end of the high street. Far from it, arguably it marks a new beginning.
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