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For retailers, e-commerce alone won't make the sale

Sharon Gaudin | Jan. 20, 2016
Giants like Disney and Under Armour say success means merging online and in-store.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnerships, a UK company that runs John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, said his company had to re-engineer itself to prepare for this retail focus.

The business can take an online order at 8 p.m. and a customer can pick it at one of the physical stores by 2 p.m. the next day.

"It's extremely popular and has driven an enormous amount of growth," said Mayfield. "The notion of two separate channels is very unhelpful."

He noted that 80% of the best and most valuable customers shop both online and in-store, and 75% of all John Lewis purchases involve customers going in-store and online.

For Disney Retail, which does $45 billion in annual global sales, company execs wanted to do more than think about merging their digital and physical sales efforts. Paul Gainer, executive vice president of Disney Retail, told an NRF audience that he consolidated the e-commerce and physical stores into one division.

"Half of traffic and one-quarter of business comes through mobile platforms," he noted. "But it's bigger than that. Our guests expect a seamless experience. Two-thirds of those who've made a brick-and-mortar purchases have been online."

Giving those consumers a shopping experience that crosses channels is necessary to Disney Retails' success.

"This is a minimum barrier of entry. It's the least people expect," said Gainer. "The future consumer is going to expect a quality, seamless experience and we are focused on that."


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