June 29, 2016

Edmonton retailers embrace digital innovation: Bricks & Clicks Topical Report

EDMONTON--E-commerce is increasingly branded as a disruptive force for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers. As large online retail platforms such as Amazon challenge the traditional retail business model, forward-thinking store operators may find it profitable to leverage new technology to grow their existing businesses. There are a number of key national retailers that have successfully developed and fostered an omni-channel approach to their store networks.

These are some of the key findings noted in Avison Young's new topical report "Bricks & Clicks: Edmonton becoming a hub for digital innovation", released today.

"This topical report is intended to shed light on the positive impacts that e-commerce can have on traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers," comments Kevin Goeres, Research Manager at Avison Young's Edmonton office. "The report also aims to present the successful innovations that have helped grow sales and brand strength. Additionally, the report underscores the strength and resilience of the Edmonton retail market. This is a city that is proving its ability to adapt to the boom-and-bust cycle in energy markets through the city's diverse employment sectors, strong earnings potential of its citizens, and extremely attractive tax environment."

According to the topical report, the innovative use of online platforms can bolster sales in various ways. Some retailers have found success through mobile apps by allowing customers to pre-order and pre-purchase items online before they come into the store to pick them up, thereby reducing transaction times. This service is convenient for the consumer, but also cost-effective for the retailer who can streamline the transaction process. Other retailers have leveraged their extensive network of physical stores to provide convenient click-and-collect locations, modifying some of their real estate to include distribution centres in addition to retail stores. This strategy has proven to be highly successful for grocers and hardware stores such as Loblaws, Walmart and The Home Depot.

The report also notes that, despite the current multi-year slump in energy markets, Edmonton has quietly continued to be a Canadian retail market leader. Not only does the city account for a significant portion of the country's job growth, but according to Statistics Canada, Edmonton's median income is 26% higher than the national average. A number of retailers, including Best Buy, have recognized Edmonton's potential for retail innovation and investment.

"Even with the down times we're seeing now, (Edmonton) still maintains its position as one of the strongest markets in Canada," Best Buy Vice-President of Real Estate Geoff Stollery said in an interview with Avison Young for the topical report.

Avison Young is the world's fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 2,200 real estate professionals in 77 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties.



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