DTZ: Online sales no threat to physical shops, retailers have learned to exploit its advantages (CZ)

Beat the competition with their own weapons – this strategy has been adopted by many traditional retailers whether in physical shops or in shopping malls at a time of steeply rising popularity of e-shops and purely online retailers. According to international consulting firm DTZ, e-shops or at least electronic orders have become a standard part of the commercial offering of many retailers.

And the main commodities that consumers searching the internet as a distribution channel even of 'brick and mortar' retailers are consumer electronics, furniture, computers and accessories, mobile phones, books, DVDs and CDs. Especially before Christmas there's a rise in interest to purchase gifts or experiences on specialized servers. It's no coincidence that retailers (such as the Association for Electronic Commerce) expect that, compared to last year, there will be an increase in pre-Christmas sales by about a fifth and turnover will reach 11 billion crowns, whereas shopping online is used by up to 5 million Czechs.

"On the other hand, retailers are still only marginally successful at offering fast moving consumer goods over the internet, i.e. food, common toiletries and some office supplies. In short, goods that make up the main offer of supermarkets and hypermarkets," adds Lenka Vodrážková, Head of Asset Management DTZ.

Nevertheless Tesco is planning to launch its first online store in the Czech Republic next year, which it will test in a selected location in the meantime. The goods offered will be chiefly fresh, frozen and preserved food and drugstore goods. According to Tesco, customers are interested in shopping over the internet. Globus is currently allowing online orders of meat and sausage and gluten-free food, which customers must pick up at the store, however. Other retailers meanwhile are still cautious in planning internet shopping. Even Ahold, which operates the network of Albert Heijn supermarkets in the Czech Republic, has not reassessed its reserved approach to internet sales, despite the successful use of online shopping in its native Netherlands.

The main reasons that still prevent retail chains from expanding this method of sale are the costs of transporting goods to the customer, timing of deliveries and freshness. Customers also are not yet willing to pay for the convenience of this service and demand the same, if not lower, prices than in a hypermarket.

Internet shopping is offered by some furniture chains on the Czech market. Asko nábytek launched its e-shop in the autumn and some goods are on offer only in the e-shop. Möbelix also offers internet shopping, though its affiliate XXXLutz does not. For retailers Ikea and Sconto you can find their products online, but they do not operate their own e-shop. Customers can only select goods in advance in the comfort of their home or office, prepare their shopping list or check its availability at individual stores. Internet shopping is also offered by the smaller Czech chains Jena nábytek and Spectrum nábytek. "We can say that it is rather the discount chains that focus on internet sales," adds Lenka Vodrážková.

Sporting goods chains have also begun selling online. Sportisimo launched its e-shop in 2009, which it operates in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Hervis is also planning to launch internet sales next year, while it waits for the results of the operation of this type of business in its home country Austria. If the operation is successful, it should offer products in the e-shop that won't be commonly available in stores.

Since the beginning of online shopping this method of selling has made itself felt most in consumer electronics, computers and their accessories. Total sales of this type of goods over the internet already comprise an estimated 15-20%. Big chain stores are understandably reacting to this development. The major players on the Czech market Datart, Electroworld and Euronics have already been running their own internet shops for several years. Okay elektrospotřebiče, which focuses on discount sales, wants to

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