A new study has found that Australian pure play online retailers are increasingly moving into the bricks and mortar retail space, driven by a desire to engage directly and personally with customers. And ironically, to drive further online sales.
According to the Commonwealth Bank Retail Insights Report, “18 per cent of online-only retailers are planning to establish a physical outlet in the year ahead, up from 13 per cent in the previous half yearly report, and over three quarters of retail businesses will have a physical presence.”
CBA’s national manager retail, Jerry Macey, said the drive towards omni-channel retailing is picking up pace with many online and physical businesses seeking to extend their reach.
“Bricks and mortar and multi-channel retailers are doing more online as customer preferences evolve. At the same time, emboldened digital retailers are opening physical stores to complement and drive further online sales.
“We have seen large online retailers such as Amazon unveil physical stores in the US, and this trend is expected to strengthen over the year ahead, with almost one in five pure play online retailers planning a bricks and mortar outlet by early 2017,” said Macey.
Retailers are forecasting robust overall online sales. Average growth is expected to increase 24 per cent next year, up from 20 per cent in the previous half.
Over the next 12 months, mobile is predicted to deliver 35 per cent of online sales. This online sales opportunity should fuel increases in technology budgets in that period, and almost half the surveyed retailers expected to lift investment.
“Overall, the top priorities for investment are ecommerce, loyalty programs and social media,” said the report.
Half full, cheers
In terms of outlook, the report shows pure play online retailers are significantly more optimistic than their multi-channel peers, with 46 per cent expecting an improvement in conditions, compared to just 28 per cent among multi-channel businesses.
“Our research shows the most optimistic retailers are those who have taken control of their own destiny, rather than looking to external economic conditions to drive sales growth,” Macey said.