“Online shopping is the ideal travel companion for our network of more than 7,000 physical stores,” as was recently made crystal clear by the DIA Group’s digital strategy director, Juan Pedro Agustín, in an interview with Expansión newspaper, which made more than one of those people present think.
The truth is that in an environment in which we are constantly given the mantra that the future is only written in binary, many have assumed that you either replace or die. And reality invites you to defend this, of course. Bank offices, travel agencies, the media… All have succumbed to the reign of software and programming, and it is not our place to say that they are wrong in this matter. Quite the opposite.
Of course, there are still sectors where the potential of the digital with the analogue encourages us to look forward with a more conciliatory perspective. This is the case of large distribution, where the capillarity of the stores, a result of the development of the proximity sale, has enabled the development of department stores in which the needs of all types of customers can be accommodated.
It is increasingly common to find in the local supermarket displays inviting you to order a home delivery, online coupons and promotions for the digital environment. And all this complemented with mobile applications that combine the “off” with the “on” in the checkout lanes. And this is no accident. They are all changes applied by companies but caused by the customer, who feels comfortable in a mixed climate in which he or she takes advantage of the immediacy and convenience of the internet and the experience of buying in the physical store context.
Currently, online sales of food represent 1% of the turnover of large retailers in Spain. They are figures that a priori may seem still small, and they are. But we would be very mistaken if we thought that the remaining 99% would not have taken a walk through the digital aisles of the supermarket to take a look and decide.
According to data from the Total Retail 2016 annual survey, carried out by the consultancy firm PwC, 19% of Spanish consumers buy online at least once a week. Somewhat below the world average at 29%, and that of the main European countries such as the United Kingdom at 45%, Germany at 34%, Italy at 32% and France, which reaches 27%.
The traditional store continues to be hegemonic in Spain, with a majority of 66% of consumers going to physical establishments at least once a month and 40% at least once a week, compared to 19% who use the Internet on a monthly basis to make their purchases, according to this same survey by PwC.
As Agustín explained in the interview quoted above, the idea is to refer customers from the Internet to the stores, and the opposite. “That’s the real challenge of multi-channels: making it easier for every customer to buy the way they want to.” In short, the customer is again at the centre of everything.