Whilst retailers seem to recognise the importance of e-commerce they’ve been slower to switch to the new technology than their customers.

The sample reveals that 62 per cent of retailers have an online shop. Clothes and shoe shops are the pioneers, whilst DIY retailers barely make use of e-commerce at all. Compared to Belgium, France, Britain and Germany, the Netherlands is a trailblazer: indeed, more than 76 per cent of Dutch retailers boast an online shop. Great-Britain follows on a second place with 70 per cent of the retailers having an online shop. Of the countries surveyed, France scored the lowest, with 48 per cent.

Online shops remain insufficiently mobile: only 31 per cent are specifically adapted for smartphones. British retailers are the first to grasp the importance of going mobile, 40 per cent have a mobile online shop.

Out of all the countries combined, an average of one in five retailers boast a dedicated app for their online shop. There are significant differences between the countries: Belgian retailers are clearly in the minority here, whilst the UK takes the lead.

Retailers witness a positive impact of e-commerce on sales and almost three out of four expect further growth. More than 60 per cent believe that those not investing in e-commerce, will run into problems. Whilst the traditional retail sector might feel increased competition from large e-commerce stores, shopping in a physical store remains important for customers. The majority of retailers are convinced that the combination of a physical store with an online presence is crucial to remaining successful in the future.

Dieter Messner, General Manager Europe at Esprit: ‘We strongly believe in an Omni Channel strategy where online and offline merge and where it’s all about the consumer’s experience and needs. In Belgium and The Netherlands, around 80 per cent of our stores are Omni channel operational, offering services such as Click & Collect and Click & Reserve. By the end of this season, almost all our BNL stores will be on board. It turns out to be a success. In Belgium, the results are even beyond expectations. 15 Years ago, we were already selling online, so we’ve build quite some experience on this level. Nevertheless, Esprit keeps investing in physical stores and in training our staff to deliver an excellent service. In the end, it’s all about the consumer.’