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Tesco CEO touts importance of e-commerce and store crossovers

10 June 2011 - 11:17 by Paul Tissington

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UK consumers and retailers are facing a multichannel future, where shopping online and the experience of in-store sales are symbiotically linked, according to Tesco chief executive, Philip Clarke.

Mr Clarke's comments come in the week that the supermarket giant has announced an expansion of its click and collect service, to include grocery items for the first time in its history.

In the past 10 years, Mr Clarke points out that e-commerce sites have changed from being an overlooked part of high street retail to a key asset in any organisation's arsenal.

Cross platform support, which will see in-store and safe shopping online work in unison, is the ultimate goal of Tesco, Mr Clarke told an audience during his first official address since taking the reins this week.

Mr Clarke believes that high street chains need to contextualise their existence against a modern Britain, where a third of adults have smartphones and about five per cent have invested in tablet PCs. As such isolating online and offline shopping from one another is not a viable business plan and integration is the way to survive and thrive.

Addressing attendees of the British Retail Consortium Conference on Wednesday, Mr Clarke said that while e-commerce was sapping sales from high street stores, it was possible to benefit from both worlds, provided you are willing to take a multichannel approach and do something interesting in the process.

Before the end of 2011, Tesco is planning to make a click and collect service available at 600 of its nationwide stores, a figure which is double the current number. The commitment to providing groceries on the same basis has been given, but without an official launch date planned, there is no certain way of knowing when consumers can start enjoying the benefits.