Retailers have to embrace e-commerce technologies or they will face losing thousands of pounds in sales.
The warning came at the CyberChannels conference, when a group of retailers and vendors discussed how the internet was going to affect their businesses and how they could adapt to the change.
Michael DaRe, vice president of store operations and sales at US chain store T-Zone, said it was not doing much business over the internet. Customers entering his shop claimed that although they knew about the Web, they had no idea how to navigate it.
'We have people who are first time buyers that prefer to come in and touch the product. Retail is alive and well,' he said.
But Charles Smulders, senior analyst at Dataquest, hit back insisting that while 'retail is alive, it isn't well'. He argued in-store advice was poor because of inconsistency in staff retention, which means they are not fully trained.
Smulders predicted that the internet will not entirely replace retailers, but he called on them to improve the way they do business: 'The challenge is to make the buying process more exciting.'
Mike Flanagan, senior manager at Symantec, said it had discussed with its partners whether they should be included in the sales process before it set up its own internet shopping site.
DaRe said: 'Retail will sell through e-commerce and we will sell through both channels - we have to do that to survive.'
Kurt Loset, vice president of Compaq, admitted that it did very little business over the Web, saying there was a reluctance among consumers because it was an untried buying method.
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