‘Integrate to survive’ - what Europe’s chains need to know about cross-channel retailing

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Finding profit while avoiding a race to the bottom means Europe’s retailers need to move from multi-channel to integrated cross-channel sales models

 

London/Frankfurt, December 11, 2013 – The Germans buy on price, the British buy on credit, the French have the best stores but are yet to “click online” and none of them have found the winning strategy for combining bricks and clicks. However, this year’s BearingPoint Institute report makes interesting reading for retailers on how to think differently to reach customers, by drawing on the insights of more than 100 senior executives and strategists working in the European retail sector.

The story across European retail is one of a failure to integrate and co-ordinate. The big retail chains understand the need for online sales channels. After all, online buyers across the major European markets are growing by about 17% a year. But all too often this comes at a heavy price to the underlying business – cannibalizing instead of complementing, while consuming vast amounts of cash. All because consumers expect bargain basement prices and unlimited choice when they shop online. Margins have been eroded and development costs have skyrocketed, but customers remain unconvinced – retail sales across the Eurozone have fallen 9% since 2007.

But there are lessons to be learned from the differing approaches across Europe. Nobody has yet cracked it, but plenty are doing parts of the process well. From its research BearingPoint has identified seven key success factors for cross-channel retail:

  • Cross-channel means far reaching changes – you need backing from the very top of the business
  • There is no map and no rule book – innovative thinking needs to be built in
  • Evolution works better than revolution – “big bang” is often more heat than light
  • Be objective when evaluating existing competencies across the organization
  • Observe and improve – test and learn by starting cross-channel small and then expanding
  • Balance centralized control with decentralized speed
  • IT is your friend and a peer partner in generative success

Launching the BearingPoint Institute report, Kay Manke, Partner at BearingPoint and author of the study, remarks: ”It’s a tantalizing prospect for retailers – rich rewards on offer if they can pull off an integrated view of sales and service across online sites, physical stores and mobile service delivery. Yet cross-channel retailing strategies are not without their challenges, as they impact directly the processes, structures and information flows at the heart of retail business models. Only 33% of respondents to our survey had a synchronised cross-channel picture of their customers. Get it right and these brands can look forward to being a staple of our High Streets – both real and virtual – for decades to come. Get it wrong and face extinction within 20 years, no matter how dominant you are now. Today’s consumers are increasingly cross-channel in terms of their purchasing behaviors and are never going to return to the pre-digital era. The stark truth is, even as retail itself transforms, retailers that rely exclusively on ‘footfall’ are already staring into the abyss. “

Cross-channel is above all else an opportunity. Traditional retailers with physical stores have the chance to compete against lower-margin online models, if they orientate their respective business models to integrate the right components efficiently and meet the evolving needs of the customer base.

Figure: Cross-channel enables retailers to exploit multiple touch points with the consumer

To read more about how cross-channel strategies can turn the fortunes of Europe’s retailers around, please download the BearingPoint Institute paper “Can cross-channel offer Europe’s retailers a more certain future?”, which can be found at www.bearingpoint.com.

 

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About the BearingPoint Institute

Founded in 2009, the BearingPoint Institute is an incisive, authoritative voice on business-critical topics, which brings together the finest minds from both within and outside the BearingPoint organisation. We strive to:

  • Advise business leaders to understand the evolution of the global economy at a deeper level
  • Explore new thinking, going beyond straightforward “Thought Leadership”
  • Propose new points of view about strategy and organisational change, and stimulate debate

This is achieved by offering practical, real-world advice from:

  • A leadership team composed of senior BearingPoint Partners, representing geographical diversity and a wealth of capabilities
  • An independent Advisory Board formed by recognised business leaders and academics
  • Studies made by experts illustrated with real-life highlights

For more information: www.bearingpointinstitute.com

 

About BearingPoint

BearingPoint consultants understand that the world of business changes constantly and that the resulting complexities demand intelligent and adaptive solutions. Our clients, whether in commercial or financial industries or in government, experience real results when they work with us. We combine industry, operational and technology skills with relevant proprietary and other assets in order to tailor solutions for each client’s individual challenges. This adaptive approach is at the heart of our culture and has led to long-standing relationships with many of the world’s leading companies and organizations. Our 3350 people, together with our global consulting network serve clients in more than 70 countries and engage with them for measurable results and long-lasting success.

For more information, please visit: www.bearingpoint.com

 

Press contact
Alexander Bock

Manager Communications

Tel. +49 89 540338029

Mailto: alexander.bock@bearingpoint.com

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