European retailers have been reluctant to develop a multi-channel approach, finding it too costly, saying the returns are too low, or simply not understanding the opportunities of the different interactive platforms, according to Gartner Inc.’s GartnerG2 research unit. Yet GartnerG2 predicts that European consumers will be quicker than their American counterparts to adopt multiple interactive commerce platforms, defined in a recent research report as PC, mobile devices, and digital TV.
GartnerG2 forecasts that by 2005, as much as 17% of the estimated $225 billion in online shopping in Europe will be conducted over digital TV and 10% through mobile devices, while 73% will be conducted over PCs. By contrast, GartnerG2 predicts that in the U.S., 5.9% of a projected $228 billion in online shopping will be conducted via TV, 4.2% through mobile devices, and 89.9% over PCs.
However, the report cautions European retailers that, as in the U.S., it’s a mistake to judge the value of online initiatives solely in terms of sales. Even the online spending projected for 2005 will account for only about 5.6% of total retail sales in Europe, notes GartnerG2, and successful online marketing goes beyond sales to encompass a broader strategy.
According to GartnerG2, the bigger opportunity beyond sales online is in using real-time interactivity with consumers to drive customers to the channel most convenient for them, and to drive loyalty, branding and customer satisfaction. “Linking the online channels with offline channels is the ultimate key to success and buyers will desert those companies that don’t get it right,” says GartnerG2 analyst Gill Mander.