National Retail Federation/Forrester Survey Shows Merging of Physical and Digital Retail

Traditional and online retailing are increasingly intertwined as customers seamlessly shop across touch points and the industry uses both platforms to better serve them, according to the annual State of Retailing Online study released in March by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester.

“This report shows more than ever that retail is retail regardless of where a sale is made or how the product is delivered,” NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews said. “Products ordered online are increasingly picked up in-store or shipped from a nearby store, and digital technology being used at bricks-and-mortar locations lets retailers help customers find what they want or make the sale even if the product is out of stock. Traditional retailers have seen the opportunities of online selling for years now, and those selling online increasingly see that stores are part of the key to success.”

Of the companies surveyed this year, 32 percent were “pure play” online retailers while 57 percent were multichannel retailers, including traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers that also sell online.
This year’s data revealed that 43 percent of store-based retailers surveyed expected a net increase in the number of bricks-and-mortar stores they operate by the end of 2018 compared with 2017, and only 16 percent expected a net reduction.

New physical locations are important because 42 percent of retailers surveyed said that faster delivery of online orders is their top customer-facing priority, and many plan to use stores to achieve that goal.
”More brands plan to open stores versus close them this year, which proves that the physical retail store is not doomed as many think it is,” Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Kodali said. “Smart retailers understand that the two go hand-in-hand, but customer-obsessed retailers will continue investing in areas like omnichannel to provide customers with the seamless on and offline experiences they expect and now require. This year’s survey proved that while they have work to do in 2018, retailers are moving in the right direction.” 

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