TORONTO, March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Manulife Asset Management has published the first research report in its new Investment Insight thought leadership series, entitled "Omnichannel: A reason for investors to re-think retail?" Authored by Edward Ritchie, Senior Investment Analyst, European & EAFE Equities; Sarah Henry, Senior Research Officer, U.S. Equities; and Kenglin Tan, Senior Portfolio Manager, Asia Equities, the report outlines how changes in the way consumers shop are driving new investment opportunities in markets around the world. It examines the emergence of omnichannel retailing, a strategy that allows customers to buy retail goods online, by visiting a store, or by various combinations of physical and virtual shopping.
"The rise of omnichannel retailing is challenging the way investors think about the consumer sector," the authors write. They observe that omnichannel blurs the line between bricks and mortar retailing and online retailing (or "e-tailing"), as retailers attempt to drive sales and boost margins by combining the two approaches.
"North American and UK retailers are developing new forms of omnichannel, while Japan and China are also pioneering distinct approaches such as virtual shopping malls," the report states.Analyzing what omnichannel means for investors, the report notes:
- Omnichannel is a retail trend that thus far has been largely neglected by investors, because it is more nuanced and less simplistic than the established models of e-tailing and traditional bricks and mortar retailing.
- However, it has the potential to rejuvenate a sector usually considered mature, driving innovation by both bricks and mortar and online retailers.
- In particular, it provides a reason for investors who previously have overlooked bricks and mortar retailers in favor of pure e-tailers to take another look.
- Specifically, it could drive investment opportunities in those retailers with strong brands and financial firepower, grocery retailers in the UK, Hong Kong and Korea, as well as department and convenience stores in multiple markets. Meanwhile, outside the retail sector, some automation manufacturers and database software companies look set to benefit from this trend.