Euro retailers embrace more digital channels
While established channels are still the main focus for European retailers, most are planning to increase the number of online channels they sell through, with new channels such as social commerce rapidly gaining ground, according to research from e-commerce platform provider ChannelAdvisor.
The research, conducted at the recent ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2011 conference in London, surveyed a cross section of medium and large retailers and found that, even though over half of respondents are already present on more than five online channels, 87% of firms intended to increase the number of online channels they sell through within the coming three years.
The channel most likely to benefit from retailers' emphasis on new channels is Amazon, which was identified by one in four respondents as the channel with the most potential to increase sales, putting the site ahead of rival eBay, paid search marketing channels such as Google, comparison shopping sites, social networks and even brands' own e-commerce sites.
Some 85% of retailers said they currently sell through more than one channel online, with more than half (54%) operating in more than five separate sales channels.
Social commerce is also increasingly prominent on retailers' agendas; the survey found that 40% of retailers are active on Facebook and 32% are active on Twitter. Already, one in five retailers (21%) see social networking as a sales channel in its own right, and nearly two thirds are already using Facebook as a tool for marketing (64%) and one third for community engagement (32%).
"Channels such as Amazon, eBay, Google and, increasingly, Facebook represent an opportunity for retailers to take their products and services to a whole new audience," explained James Scott, managing director EMEA for ChannelAdvisor.
E-commerce is currently growing at a rate of 19% year-on-year across Europe, while also becoming increasingly complex, sophisticated and competitive. According to Scott, it is vital that retailers quickly and cost-effectively start to generate sales from any new platform they use to engage customers.
"It's no surprise to see that retailers are primarily focusing on established and proven channels to make the most of the most of this rapidly expanding market," concluded Scott. "Yet, at the same time, retailers need to keep a very close eye on the more revolutionary models now being explored in social commerce, which have huge potential. Those businesses that can crack social commerce will have a chance to put themselves far ahead of the competition, which explains the increasing uptake of channels such as Facebook and Twitter."