Retail Trends

Physical and online commerce: in search of a needed synergy

2 min read

Despite the recent acceleration of eCommerce, the physical store continues to play a vital role in the strategies of retailers, who increasingly seek greater integration between the physical store and the online channel.

The growth of eCommerce in Europe has reached figures of 31% according to a study by Forrester. But the role of the physical store is still very relevant, as 71% of consumers say that they continue to prefer the physical shopping experience.


The physical store continues to offer unique benefits to shoppers who, in turn, cannot ignore the online channel and need strong omnichannel strategies. As a result,  traditional retailers are betting on digitization, but we also see the reverse phenomenon in many digital-first brands that are opening physical stores.

Two good examples? Netflix and Aliexpress. Two brands that were born to bring the revolution in their respective sectors and that today are increasingly betting on omnichannel.

Netflix plans to open its first physical store in Tokyo in 2022 and Aliexpress has opened its third store in Spain.

Consumers want flexibility first and foremost and retailers in all industries are challenged to create strategies that can adapt to changes in consumer behavior.

In its study, Forrester estimates that nearly three-quarters of retail sales will be offline. In the case of sales of products other than food or beverages, the figure reaches 66%.

The author of the study highlights that the product categories that require a stronger sensory interaction of the buyer or that require the advice of an expert, will continue to be done offline, as well as impulse purchases for smaller value that will continue to be the protagonists of the physical store.

The acceleration in online growth of sectors such as grocery has been a great paradigm shift. In fact, with a growth of 67%, this sector is among those that grew the most last year.

But online strategies are not everything and this sector is a good example. Although the digital transformation has accelerated like never before, the future is the collaboration between the different sales channels.

Retailers need an online presence, and digital natives and DTC brands increasingly recognize the need for a presence in the physical world.

The more traditional stores seek to reach a larger audience with online sales, while the DTC brands seek to get closer to their audience and improve their sales margins. With increasing online competition, customer acquisition costs are increasing.

Retailers are investing in unifying their digital platforms with their store networks to make it easier for their customers to buy through the channel that suits them best at all times.

That is why it is now more necessary than ever to have a good omnichannel strategy for both traditional retailers and for digital natives and DTC brands.

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