About the future of retail, SR is talking with Irina Poddubnoy, head of the marketing and online sales department of the Obuv Rossii group of companies.
- Irina, do you agree with the conclusions of the experts?
“In general, I agree that both the Internet and traditional trade are important sales channels, and they should develop in parallel, complementing each other.” There should be uniform service standards, style and pricing policy in each of the sales channels: the customer’s experience with the brand should be the same, it doesn’t matter how he interacts with the company - through the Internet or through a regular outlet. By developing different sales channels in parallel, our company seeks synergies online and offline. So, thanks to e-commerce, we have expanded our geography - now it is all of Russia, and not just 100 cities in which our brands exist. At the same time, having our own extensive retail network is our competitive advantage, which helps us organize delivery more efficiently for online customers throughout Russia. 90% of online store buyers choose pick-up from a retail outlet, that is, a physical presence in a city / region is important for the development of online retail. By positioning the online store as a sales tool for sellers and an additional service for customers, you get one more argument in favor of choosing your stores in the face of growing competition and changing consumer behavior when customers become more selective.
- Your forecast for the development of retail in Russia: is the future for the multi-channel model or will the trade gradually go to the Internet?
- I think the future lies in multichannel and omnichannel trading, when only the brand and interaction with it will matter to the consumer, and the client will choose the format of the purchase as he is comfortable at a particular moment - via the Internet, mobile phone, call center, print catalog or regular store. Therefore, for any retailer it is now important to develop different sales channels and maintain a common style, pricing policy, and follow common service standards. The transition from one sales channel to another must be made invisible to the buyer, so that the person does not even think about how he is making a purchase. Trading completely on the Internet will not go away, at least in fashion retail for sure. It is important for the buyer to have tactile contact with the product, try on, see, discuss with the sales assistant or consult with relatives and friends (usually they don’t go to the store one at a time). But stores must develop new services. For example, in the store at the moment there is no pair of the right size, and the buyer should be able to immediately see where this pair is and place an order for delivery to this outlet. In the fall of 2014, we launched a pilot project with tablet computers - installed them in Omsk stores so that customers had the opportunity to immediately see the availability of goods and make an order through our online platform. It is necessary to bet on the development of brands and the development of different sales channels. In the autumn of 2014, we launched a new direction - catalog sales of household goods Westfalika Home, including through an online store. The project was in demand, and in May 2015, the first specialized Westfalika Home departments opened in stores. The project began as a remote and online, and was continued in the format of traditional outlets. This example confirms the conclusion that different sales channels cannot be divided, they interact and complement each other. The advantage of the Internet for retail companies is that it is easier and faster to experiment with the range. For example, you start test sales of a new product through an online store, look at the results, and then make a decision: whether to increase production or purchase volumes of this category, or distribute it to the entire retail network. Today, a shoe store is a service company that offers, along with the main products, a number of useful and popular services. The presence of such services is a necessary condition for the development of multichannel.
- What, in your opinion, should be the store of the future?
- In the store of the future there will be no separation between online and offline, different sales channels will complement each other. There will be a brand with which the buyer interacts in different points and in different formats. The boundaries between trade in goods and the provision of services will be blurred, everything will be combined within the store. And the buyer, making a purchase, will receive a set of additional features (top up a mobile phone account or make a loan payment). This is already happening in some of the more competitive retail markets, in particular in the mobile retail market. In the fashion segment will be the same. What was previously available only in an offline format will be available online - for example, virtual fitting rooms and the ability to choose shoes not just by size, but by the characteristics of your foot (3d scan of the foot is done and shoes are selected). Such developments already exist, and their mass distribution is a matter of the near future. Now many fashion retailers are experimenting with ibeacon beacons, which are installed in stores and allow you to organize a system for sending personal notifications visitors, conduct promotions, collect statistics on visits. In the next two years, retailers will improve their IT infrastructure, personalize marketing and work on smoothing corners and merging sales channels to track the entire customer history. After that, life will become more comfortable both for the buyer (they will save him from intrusive advertising and unnecessary offers) and for sellers who, through marketing and all communication and sales channels, will fulfill sales plans.
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