A unique opportunity for omnichannel stores

The Federation of Norwegian Enterprise (Virke) estimates in its new forecast that November 2022 will be the best month for online shopping ever in Norway. That growth is expected to persist through December. It will place new demands on the stores and create winners and losers, says Eivind Thorsrud Willard, Chief Commercial Officer at Forte Digital. Virke, The Federation of Norwegian Enterprise, organizes and represents over 24 000 businesses with more than 280 000 employees.

Fresh figures from Klarna also show that a record number of Norwegians have taken advantage of an online offer during Black Week.

– This Christmas will be a unique opportunity for omnichannel players to showcase their online stores to the Norwegian people. Those who manage to create good customer experiences online will be the long-term winners, Willard believes.

Virke, The Federation of Norwegian Enterprise, organizes and represents over 24 000 businesses with more than 280 000 employees.

According to Virke's forecasts, a total of NOK 21.2 billion will be traded online in the months of November and December. The pandemic caused many stores to also establish themselves online. Even without infection control restrictions, online shopping remains high.

Decisive with data and personalization

In today's market, omnichannel has almost become a requirement for stores to survive. This is revealed in Virke's annual Trade Report 2022-2023, where they predict that this growth will persist and point to the shops' ability to be omnichannel as crucial for further growth. Willard believes the stores that manage to utilize data and offer personalized customer experiences will be the long-term winners.

– When we as customers shop in a store, we have a certain expectation that the customer experience is seamless and efficient. In other words, we expect an experience that is personalized, relevant and tailored. This means that the store knows what we are interested in, that we receive relevant marketing about these products and that we receive tips and advice based on behavior and shopping patterns. It requires extensive data capture to achieve. Unfortunately, far too many shops fall short here.

Experimenting with artificial intelligence

Willard singles out Farmasiet and Fjellsport as pure online trading players who have really become good at data capture and personalisation. Farmasiet has become Norway's largest online pharmacy in record time and in 2021 increased its turnover by 40 per cent and reached NOK 450 million. Fjellsport, for its part, sold sports equipment online for almost 900 million in 2021.

In recent years, Farmasiet has experimented with artificial intelligence in the online store and in marketing. Hilde Andersen-Gott, technology director at Farmasiet, explains that data is crucial when adopting new technology.

– Compared to manual (insight-based) product recommendations, recommendations using artificial intelligence perform many hundreds of percent better. This would only be possible if you have enough high-quality data. Building digital platforms is a prerequisite for utilizing data and personalizing the customer experience, says Andersen-Gott.

Willard tror at veksten i netthandel vil vedvare og tror ny teknologi vil bli avgjørende for nettbutikkenes vekst.

– Capitalizing on the demand we now see will be crucial both in the short and long term. "Why didn't we do more to improve online shopping?" is a question that one would prefer to avoid asking on the day that online shopping has become Norwegians' preferred shopping channel. Smart use of data and new technology will be decisive for the online stores of the future, concludes Willard.

Willard believes that the growth in online shopping will continue and believes that new technology will be decisive for online stores' growth.

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