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‘Showrooming’ on the rise as etailers get physical

Me+Em

The number of online retailers launching physical stores is growing, while internet sales growth is expected to slow.

Property services company Colliers International has predicted online sales growth will slow from around 11% to 7% by 2021.

To counter this, online retailers are increasingly turning to physical stores to bolster sales and reinforce customer loyalty.

The survey analysed more than 30 online brands across the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region that have launched “showroom” stores.

It cited luxury British womenswear brand Me+Em as an example, which began online and this year opened its third store, in Notting Hill, west London.

It also referenced French fashion brand Sézane, which began on Ebay and has since opened physical stores in Paris and New York. It is now considering a permanent presence in London after opening a pop-up on South Molton Street.

Paul Souber, co-head of EMEA retail at Colliers, said: “With the rate of web sales forecast to level out over the next four years, many etailers have identified ‘showrooms’ as one of the remedies to a decline in profits.

“The trend is also driven by cost considerations: it’s not uncommon for 40% of online fashion orders to be returned by the customer without making a purchase. This is imposing a huge logistical and cost burden on the online brands.” 

Etienne van Unen, co-head EMEA retail at Colliers, added: “Because showrooms are often located in a non-prime property and in units which would not appeal to mainstream retailers, the rents they command are often lower.” 

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