“Internet cannibalize sales in store”, “the show rooming will kill us” … In his book “The store is not dead!”, Catherine Barbra, expert of online sales, wrings the neck to the prejudices of some tradespeople.
Your customers have (almost) all gone to e-commerce, and you? This questioning launched to traders, big and small, as a challenge, is the guiding thread of Catherine Barba’s new book “The store is not dead”. A small and clever guide subtitled “how to make the digital transition of your business in 15 key topics”, published in partnership with sponsors (Fevad – Federation of e-commerce and Distance Selling, Banque Populaire, DGCIS of Ministry of Economy …) available for free download (including on the website of the Fevad).

Catherine Barba, a pioneering French web entrepreneur (OMD Interactive,, Malinea, and most recently CB Group) is an e-commerce and digital expert. Author of a prospective report on the future of e-commerce, the guide “Shopping online, not even afraid”, and the blog, she created, in 2010, the e-commerce Lab, a laboratory of active watch to test innovative start-ups and e-commerce solutions.

Become business angel she invests today in innovative start-ups of the web (, ….). His latest album aims to wring his neck to a number of clich├ęs that continue to fuel the fears of traders with regard to the Internet. “Internet takes us market share, Internet cannibalize sales in stores, showrooming will kill us, are phrases that I have so often heard, says Catherine Barba, I wanted to write this little book to share with all the actors of the trade, from the leaders to the salesmen, a positive glance on the changes in progress To overcome the apprehensions and to make envy, beyond the words, to really put in the cross-channel in the acts “, adds the author who is particularly interested in the digitization of the customer journey and the key stages of the digital transition.

1. E-commerce will kill stores

“E-commerce sites, divert customers from good old stores”, “Internet takes us market share”, “Internet cannibalize sales in store”, “Internet destroys jobs”, “Internet killed Virgin” .. .

How many times have you heard or even adhered to these judgments, erected in principle by many media? Should we really worry about the insolent growth of e-commerce? No, because it is illusory. The + 19% in 2012, + 14% in the first quarter of 2013 actually means that the development of e-commerce is driven by the arrival of tens of thousands of new entrants: it creates 2 e-commerce sites per hour in France ! And mostly by traders, who rely on complementarity store and Internet. “A father can go to lunch in a shopping center with his daughter, buy him a sweater or, conversely, order it with her on the Internet, at home.In the end, it will grow the same turnover: the one of the brand “said Jacques-Antoine Granjon during an exchange with Guillaume Poitrinal of Unibail-Rodamco in Madame Figaro. “It’s a question of communicating vessels: e-commerce just takes a little more space because consumers buy even on their iPhone.Everything will balance.” Should we see in the closing of the 26 Virgin stores the symptom of the fall of the stores under the blows of Internet? No ! It’s the exact opposite: it’s the absence of the Internet that has killed Virgin. “The species that survive are not the smartest or the strongest, but the ones that can adapt,” said Darwin. What kills the stores is precisely not making the necessary investments to meet the expectations of the cross-channel customer. If the absence of the Internet can kill, conversely, not having physical store is also a serious handicap. In the United States, pure players are marginalizing: excluding Amazon, Vistaprint and Netflix, online sales sites without a physical point of sale account for less than 10% of the overall turnover of the top 100 e-commerce! Everything else is generated by established brands and brands. And in France, even Meetic, the king of online dating has put a foot in the physical by buying Pasta Party to organize real meetings.

2. What customers are looking for above all else is the price

Is price the first and only criterion of purchase? That’s right, since the beginning of e-commerce, in the mind of the consumer, buying online is having the choice, so much more than in any physical store, but above all having better prices. Internet: the temple of discount, promo, bargains. Then the question of price has evolved with the arrival of independent traders, brands and signs on e-commerce, forced to post identical prices online and in the physical. Today, the price remains a fundamental component but the perception of the value of a product leaves a significant importance to the dimension of service. If the customer no longer accepts to pay too much for average products, he also does not accept bad products, regardless of their price. He turns away from pure discount, considered “cheap”, without service, without value. Of course, the surfer continues to compare prices, which remain a major decision criterion especially in electronics, DIY, food or clothing but today, the price is no longer the defining attribute. , even in very competitive markets. As a result, when the customer compares, he does so by including at least six other dimensions: the quality of the product, the breadth of the offer, the services offered (cost and delivery time, after-sales service, extension of warranty …) , the quality of its experience on the site (the navigation, the clarity of presentation of the products, the simplicity of the purchase), the confidence that inspires the merchant (the brand!) and finally the quality / price ratio.

The challenge is not so much to be the cheapest as to be the least expensive for the value brought. That implies :

– to be very well positioned on the right mix product / image / price with its target, give a lot to consumers while keeping reasonable prices. This equation is difficult to maintain, especially in the mid-range where the competition is abounding;

– on the other hand

to emphasize its differences
If you are not the cheapest, you have to be terribly effective on other dimensions than the price to create confidence, envy, surprise, emotion.

3. Physical stores no longer attract customers

At the beginning of e-commerce, we feared that this new sales channel would dehumanize any type of relationship: we were going to finish alone, to order behind cold screens and tasteless … In reality, it’s just the opposite which is happening today! The more we buy online and more we need a return to reality, human contact, smile, warmth. Many studies report this: the increasing digitization of purchasing acts does not diminish the attractiveness of physical outlets. In particular, there is Oracle Retail’s 2012 survey of 1,500 consumers in Great Britain, France and Germany, which asked 19-23 year olds about the role of trade in their lives, how they use different channels. and how they believe stores should evolve to better meet their expectations. It shows that, even for these “digital native” – because born with Internet – the store remains central in the shopping journey. It’s even their favorite place to buy. The store is perceived as a place of social connection that gives an opportunity to be together. Its place is considered essential in the heart of the city. While it retains a decisive place in their purchases, the store is never considered without its corollary e-commerce, web or mobile.

Consumers loyal to a brand recognize buying more if it is both Internet and store. Whatever their age, the customers are so good Internet and store. One does not go without the other. Now one thing is certain, if in store the benefit for the customer does not go beyond seeing or touching the products, the point of sale may no longer keep this central place for a long time. A 2013 GfK study of the in-store customer experience for purchases of technical goods reports that a quarter of the demo requests are not met.

Merchants will have to be imaginative to welcome, create pleasure, emotion, desire. To surprise, to discover. To simplify the life of the customers. Give them value. To be useful in the daily life of the customers, before, during, after the purchase, by developing a posture of service, complementary to their heart of activity. In short, this is good news for customers: “the end of the boring store,” said retail specialist Olivier Saguez.

4. My store will become a showroom!

This is a foregone conclusion: consumers will come to find more and more in store and will start buying on the Internet, where it is cheaper. Before you buy a new digital camera, you’ve viewed hundreds of customer reviews and expert reviews online, collected feedback from your friends on social networks, asked around … After a week of In-depth research, you only want between two models. You go to a store to confirm your choice with an expert seller, see, touch the products. You are decided! While you wait in checkout, you automatically check on your smartphone how much the camera costs elsewhere: 50 euros cheaper on Amazon, with delivery the next day! Neither one nor two, you Buy it online, rest the item on the shelf and put your hands in the pockets.

If you’ve ever experienced such a scene, you’re part of the “showroomers” that shake traders, especially those in consumer electronics, textiles and accessories. In its study conducted at the end of 2012 with 26,000 buyers from 14 countries entitled “From transaction to relationship”, IBM evaluates on average 6% of respondents the number of showroomers. Many traders fear (or even rage) to see their shelves turn into museums, “Internet fitting room”, where people would come to admire the products, get information from the sellers, to buy later, sometimes on the e-commerce site of the store, more often with a pure player of the Web posting cheaper prices with delivery the same day …

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