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Fashion e-tailers lead as retail goes omnichannel, will help make stores more 'experiential'

Published
today Apr 27, 2017
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For many in fashion retail, the big news may be all about store closures. But with omnichannel being key, store openings are also making headlines and fashion brands have led the way in transitioning from pureplay to omnichannel retail, a new report says.


Missguided's move into physical stores reflects the omnichannel trend



Fashion brands account for 29.6% of all online retailers taking physical space in the UK to date, according to the report from property specialist Savills.

That puts fashion ahead of of the homewares sector, which nonetheless runs it a close second on 25.9%, and well clear of electrical, DIY and building supplies brands on 14.8%.

So which brands were crucial in moving from being pureplay online vendors to opening their own physical locations last year? The report said Missguided, which opened its first store at London’s Westfield Stratford (and plans another for Bluewater this year) was a major mover, while Finery and Little Mistress transitioned via department store concessions. 

And it seems that the online-offline mix could become even more important as online sales growth in the UK is expected to level out over the next five years, according to GlobalData Retail, slowing from 11.4% annually between 2012 and 2016 to 4.8% by 2022. 

Savills said that it’s not a case of online versus offline, but rather how the two platforms can work together to provide the best ‘total’ retail experience.
 
Its commercial research direct Marie Hickey said: “When it comes to fashion and homewares, the biggest driver of total retailing continues to be… the desire to touch and feel a product before purchase, meaning physical stores play an important role in driving both online and offline sales. Stores can also deliver convenience to customers, a key attraction of shopping online, in the form of click and collect services.”
 
But while stores offer the touch and feel experience, Savills said that “true digitisation of experience will now be at the forefront of store evolution,” which to date has centred largely on hardware, such as providing iPads to allow shoppers to search for products online. 

The report said the evolving focus is on creating integrated software solutions, which can provide the same personalised shopper experience in-store that consumers have become accustomed to online, and enhance the speed and ease of payment.

So expect mobile payment, customer recognition technology, live inventory tracking and monitoring of shopper engagement with products to become the norm. 

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