In the last couple of years, the volume of online shopping has expanded beyond what anyone could have imagined . Last year, in the UK, the total volume of online shopping across all sectors passed the ten percent mark. For purchases like music and video, it is over 80%, for books over 50% . In Europe and America, shops in those sectors are struggling to survive — and not always succeeding. But it is not just that consumers are switching to a different channel to make their purchases. Increasingly, when a customer enters a shop, they have already done some online research. A recent study found that 75% of consumers researched products both online and in-store before making a significant purchase . Some retailers worry that if customers have access to WiFi in the store, they will discover that the competition (online or another shop) is cheaper, and the sale will be lost. Others believe that if the customer cannot do their online research on the spot, they will do it at home, and the chance of making the purchase at their shop will be decreased.
That is just one way that the changing retail environment means that traditional wisdom regarding layout and stocking of shops may need serious reconsideration. The online revolution will also have an effect on all sorts of other aspects, such as the range of items to be stocked and the levels of inventory. Maybe the retail store will be more like a showroom in the future, with orders placed in the shop, but via the website. How will the optimal location of the shop, the shop’s layout and display of items be affected? What should the total customer experience be?