This week, Amazon struck a major deal with Morrisons. Terry Hunter, UK Managing Director at major ecommerce player Astound Commerce, believes that although it is important to have a strong online presence as a retailer in 2016, the value of the physical store cannot be forgotten.
We’ve seen this before with another major supermarket. When Waitrose partnered with Ocado it had the initial desired effect. Consumers increased the amount of grocery orders they placed over the internet. However, it also drove too much shopping traffic online, leaving the supermarket’s physical stores with a much lower footfall than before.
Over the past few years, Waitrose has had to take steps to actively guide shoppers back into its physical stores through a series of promotional offers (free coffee, newspapers, etc) in order to find a suitable balance. A similar thing happened with Sainsbury’s.
It’s evident that driving people online is an important move in today’s grocery sector, and it can help supermarket brands to capture a greater share of the market. But it’s vital to remember the importance of having an omnichannel presence, which values physical and online shopping stores for different reasons, and to meet different consumer needs.”
The term omnichannel is at the centre of this debate. It’s become something of a catchall term to represent the fact today’s consumers are making a mix of online and in store purchases, and different consumer requirements depend on a different shopping experience. Therefore, despite the steady rise of online sales in recent years as demonstrated by Morrisons latest move, it’s still important for retailers, and particularly supermarkets, to maintain a physical presence in order to drive overall growth.
UK Managing Director