by Editorial Team
March 15, 2016

Omnichannel retail is becoming ever more popular right across Germany and Europe. Here are the reasons behind this trend.

Retail goes digital: More and more retailers are selling on the web, making a solid turnover share online and the digitization of the whole customer life cycle is on the breaktrough. This is the result of the latest infographic ‘Digitization in Retail’ by statistics portal Statista and Wirecard.

Today, there is a complete integration of digital and analogue shopping: Buyers get inspiration and information on the web, save with promotions and share impressions online – while on virtual or real shopping tour. In addition, reinventing retail through digitization comes with big investments in promising internet technologies.

The signs are good, as Germans shop on their smartphones

Before now, especially Germans had tended to be rather more reserved when it comes to shopping via mobile devices. However, this is now changing. The number of German consumers who use their smartphone or tablet for online shopping is rapidly on the rise. According to Statista, the proportion of mobile shoppers in 2015 topped 64%. Ever more consumers see their mobile device as a viable way of shopping. This obviously bodes well for the future of omnichannel retail as this covers purchases across all channels: online, mobile and point of sale (POS).

In addition to shopping, paying via mobile devices is also on the rise. According to the research firm Gartner, the number of mobile transactions in Germany will reach 23.17 million by 2017. In 2013, the corresponding figure was only around 8 million. In addition to the German population embracing mobile payment with increased enthusiasm, acceptance among German retailers for this payment method is also growing. Several major supermarket chains have recently enabled their till systems to accept contactless payments. It would appear that NFC technology is becoming increasingly established.

People buy more and more furniture and food online

At the same time, online trading is becoming more widespread. The internet is a major sales channel for clothes, consumer electronics and holidays. According to information supplied by the corporate consultancy firm KPMG, acceptance among consumers will increasingly extend to traditional, easily substitutable product groups such as medication, furniture and food. KPMG envisages that consumers will make nearly a quarter of all their purchases online by the year 2020.

Last year, another trend arrived on the scene which is set to continue at pace in 2016. An increasing number of online shops are opening physical stores. In this regard, 81.6% of planning departments in the German retail sector last year expected an increased number of online retailers to open physical stores in Europe in the future

In the near future, shoppers will be able to scan products by smartphone

The trend which has seen online shops opening physical stores has given rise to what are known as ‘showrooms’. This means customers are advised personally in store before eventually completing their purchase online. Last year, 52.2% of shopfitting companies in Germany expressed the view that European shops are increasingly functioning as showrooms. In the near future, shoppers may even be able to scan products in the showroom with their smartphone. This would allow consumers to order their chosen products online and have their purchase delivered directly to their front door. This trend could actually force high-street retailers to transform their stores into showrooms and upgrade their online shops.

Increasingly popular: Location services and customised vouchers

This year, anyone making a purchase in a physical store is increasingly likely to receive a receipt via email rather than from the till system – if the customer so wishes, at any rate. Many retailers have reconfigured their till systems so that receipts can be emailed conveniently to regular customers.

In addition, there will be an increased focus on personalised offers which are connected to a consumer’s current location in 2016. According to a survey by KPMG, 78% of Germans can envisage using location services. These services are made possible by way of beacon technologies. This has benefits for both buyers and sellers: Retailers can generate short-term sales impulses and consumers are able to benefit from spontaneous offers, which are sent directly as notifications to their smartphones.

Personalised mobile vouchers to replace gift card vouchers

In the right place at the right time for the right customers: 2016 will see businesses attempt to connect with potential customers, appealing directly to their individual needs by sending relevant offers directly to their smartphones. If a regular customer enters a store, they receive an automatic notification to their smartphone or tablet which highlights the best offers in their preferred product category that day. The mobile voucher can then be immediately redeemed at the point of sale.

Digital changes over the course of the year will lead to an increased number of retailers upgrading their IT systems. According to figures released by the EHI Retail Institute, 28% of retail companies in Germany are planning to replace their till systems in the near future. In total, 23% intend to equip their own employees with mobile devices and 48% are planning to embrace the subject of omnichannel retail in general terms.

Many experts agree that it will not be long before online, mobile and POS sales channels merge to form a single, unified shopping experience. After all, it is not only that online retailers are increasingly opening physical stores, but high street retailers are also now integrating mobile and online offerings in their sales strategies. However, there is now a simple way to combine all sales channels: Using the central, cloud-based platform ‘ConnectedPOS’, retailers are able to connect with their customers and simply and conveniently offer value added services even when dealing with complex and diverse infrastructures.

This infographic shows the digitization in retail across Europe