Retailers see "click and mortar" as way to beat Amazon

Reuters

* Most sales still made in-store

* One in three retailers plan to increase overall storespace

* Two-thirds of John Lewis sales involve stores and online

* Online/offline distinction outdated

* Era of pure online retailers over -Vente-Privee CEO

By Emma Thomasson and Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Traditional stores can take one-commerce and keep their major role by reinventing themselvesfaster to best combine shopping in stores and online, topretailers said on Tuesday.

Despite the challenge from players like Amazon, 68percent of retailers say stores remain the most importantchannel for shoppers and one in three plan to expand theirfootprint, according to a survey by the Australian Centre ofRetail Studies released at a conference in the French capital.

"I am totally convinced that click and mortar is thefuture," said Georges Plassat, the head of world number tworetailer Carrefour, referring to the combination ofonline sales and shopping in stores.

He told the three-day World Retail Congress that more thantwo thirds of his group's sales are still in-store.

"There is a dream for people working purely in the Internetthat they will be delivering everybody on a daily basis a litreof milk. This is totally a dream and could become a nightmarebecause of the cost of energy."

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire saidEurope's biggest home improvements retailer is overhauling storelayout and using space for events like do-it-yourself classes.

"I can't realistically outrange Amazon. What I can do ismake my range better curated and framed," he said.

Kingfisher staff also suggest items to people collectingonline goods, like brushes and dust sheets with paints, he said.

STORE FOOTPRINT

John Lewis, Britain's biggest department storefirm, is a major retailer which is still expanding stores.

"Customers want to combine pure online with visiting stores.Stores have a big role to play," Mark Lewis, head of John LewisOnline, which already accounts for more than a quarter of groupsales and is expected to eventually hit 40 percent.

Lewis said more than two-thirds of sales involved stores andonline, such as collecting Internet orders in-store, researchingonline or scanning items with smart phones to read reviews.

Not all players have responded to the Amazon threat as fastas John Lewis, whose early move into e-commerce helped itweather the recent downturn better than rivals.

"Retailers who thought they were protected are having torespond," said Tony Stockil, head of retail consultancy Javelin.

Graham Cooke, head of Qubit, which helps firms analyse theirwebsite traffic, said many retailers still had to removeartificial barriers between online and offline businesses.

Simon Calver, the former head of online movie rental firmLovefirm, now turning around British mother and baby productsretailer Mothercare, has been overhauling stores asshowcases and theatres of products, most of which he said areresearched online before a shopping trip.

"There will always be stores," he said, adding he seesunder-served pockets of Britain where Mothercare could stillopen branches, even as it slashes total shop numbers.

Jacques-Antoine Granjon, boss of French e-commerce firmVente-privee.com, said formerly pure online players were havingto learn from traditional retailers and predicted that fashione-tailer ASOS would eventually open its own stores.

"It is the end of pure players, they are finished," he said."The future is multi-channel and cross-channel. E-commerce isjust a new distribution channel."

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