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Multichannel is biggest worry for retailers

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Executives from several leading retailers put the ‘multichannel story’ at the top of the agenda at a recent industry summit.

Next Generation Retail (NGR)’s first European summit, held from September 14th to 16th, brought together a small group of executives from companies including Adidas, Asos.com, Bilka and eBay.

A number of issues surrounding the industry were up for discussion during the three days but the challenges facing multichannel integration were executives’ main focus.

Ian Johnson, Head of EMEA for NGR, said: “When we surveyed the participants prior to the summit, most responded that they were most concerned about the multichannel story.

“This area has a multitude of connotations, for online this could be m-commerce, it often means technology & strategy and it also concerns supply chain pressures.

“We found that many retailers were seeing a large increase in the number of online sales but they were not necessarily experiencing a similar rise in profits.”

Business management software solutions company and NGR summit partner, SAP, estimates cross-channel shopping to grow from 20 per cent to 38 per cent of the overall market by 2012.

A major challenge facing retailers is a way of balancing an increase in technological services whilst limiting the level of outsourcing to technology companies.

Johnson added: “The summit talked a lot about using business intelligence, the use of data, optimising customer experience and utilising social media.

“The mood was mixed, some were very excited by the potential of these growing markets whereas others we very concerned.”

The NGR summit is a reaction to the traditional conference structure which features lots of presentations and lectures.

NGR found that top executives were turned off by that format, fatigued by the conference calendar and desired something more intimate. NGR summits are designed to put a small number of invited industry figures into one room and allow them to workshop and discuss industry issues.

Elliot Lee, Summit Director of NGR Europe, said: “This is an industry which has quite a closed door reputation and it has been poorly let down by conferences in the past, so there was quite a lot of scepticism about how the process was going to pan out.

“As the three days unfolded however, participants began to recognise what an opportunity the summit provided for them to work together in finding general consensus on concerns, which was somewhat of a unique experience for them.”

Another NGR Europe summit is being held in Geneva in April and before then the group intends to hold several online forums to, as Lee explains, “keep this discussion going”.

Published on Monday 27 September by Editorial Assistant

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