When Tesco, the UK-based retailer, wanted to grow its South Korean supermarket chain, Home Plus, without a bigger physical footprint, the company built a virtual subway store by posting photos of its products with QR codes. The pictures mimic inventory on store shelves and give busy commuters an opportunity to build a shopping cart while waiting for their trains and schedule delivery within minutes or hours.
This type of innovative shopping experience heralds the digital store of the future, however, don’t mistake the retail store for a relic that may disappear. Rather, physical stores are here to stay and will remain the largest contributor of revenue, which is forecast to provide an average 72% of overall retail revenue through 2017, according to Miriam Burt, research vice president, at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona, Spain.
The store of the future
Although we are moving into a digital business environment, the majority of retail revenue is still coming from the store. “The digital store is not a store of the future, but rather a store of the past, present, and future,” Ms. Burt said. Retailers estimate that up to 50% of store sales are impacted by e-commerce and m-commerce combined. “However, there is also evidence that the click and collect service is on the increase, and that the store will remain the heart of digital business execution,” said Ms. Burt. Massive online retailers have made moves to reflect this trend. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company, bought a 20 percent stake in Suning Appliance, owner of 1,600 stores across China, Hong Kong and Japan. U.S.-based Amazon opened the Amazon Books bookstore in Seattle, Washington.