CBRE carried out a survey among 50 leading international retailers to identify their current strategies for multichannel retail and how they saw this developing in future. The survey identified:

•    The level of retailer engagement with digital technology (social media, smart phone apps);
•    The effect of retailers’ digital strategy on footfall, turnover and the design/size of stores;
•    Retailers’ future demand for physical stores;
•    Where retailers derive the greatest value from their digital strategies.

The research found that as a direct result of their digital strategies nearly all retailers (87%) feel they will see an increase in the overall revenue of their business, with the majority (80%) expecting an increase in foot traffic in stores. A significant amount of retailers (40%) anticipate a need for more stores in the future and expect to increase store openings.

Digital technology is an integral part of a retailer’s armoury. Nearly all of the retailers surveyed (85%) now have a dedicated resource to run their digital strategies and the vast majority (87%) operate a transactional website. Digital technology is also being used by retailers to drive customers to their stores via social media and the use of smart phone apps and geo-localisation. Most retailers are seeking to create larger experiential stores featuring digital tools such as iPads for ordering online and digital screens to show the full range of goods. 

Neville Moss, Head of EMA Retail Research, CBRE, commented: “In the digital age, it is more important than ever that retailers understand their brand and the way it engages with consumers. Advances in technology provide an increasing range of tools to do this, and consequently those retailers that do embrace digital technology will have the best chance of success. This is true throughout the retail spectrum, from food to fashion and from luxury to value.

“Successful digital strategies clearly require investment; not only the cost of technology, but also for hiring and training staff to implement this, and the reorganisation of the business model in line with this. This in-store investment in new technologies is essential in order to ‘stay ahead’ of the competition.”