The offline retail for Italian digital-native startups: threat or opportunity

Leite, Jaci Corrêa
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In the last decade, the imminent death of the retail sector has often been predicted. However, quantitative studies demonstrate that this is not the case. Although a disruptive change is indeed in act in this segment, it does not seem to be in danger of disappearing. Specifically, the well-known brick-and-mortar store is living a second life, mainly because of three reasons: the “Z Generation” growing “Need for Touch”, the companies need to build a stronger relationship with its customers, and the availability of technological tools and their decreasing prices. The physical store is becoming a crucial point in most companies that adopt an omnichannel strategy. It is also playing an important role in the online startups’ expansion strategies towards the offline channel (O2O – Online to Offline). The Italian startups playing in the so-called “Made in Italy” will be the main focus of this paper. Throughout a qualitative study (casestudies and semi-structured interviews), the main reasons and competitive advantages that push a digital-native company to go offline will be investigated. Furthermore, the technological tools adopted by these companies in order to offer a more integrated customer experience are identified and analyzed. Future trends and opportunities are examined from the companies’ perspectives and the author's point of view.

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