The department store of the future according to the Dutch

What do Dutch people think the department store of the future will look like? A majority of Dutch consumers believe that department stores should actively pursue sustainability and set an example (compared to smaller shops) in this area. This and more is evident from research conducted by de Bijenkorf in collaboration with independent research agency PanelWizard into the future of department stores.

What is the role of department stores in society?
The research shows what role department stores play in the eyes of Dutch consumers. The vast majority of Dutch consumers see added value in physical department stores: only 7 per cent of those surveyed feel that stores should be closed down and continue online only (76 per cent disagree or disagree completely). Consumers seem to appreciate a physical shopping experience.

Over 60 percent of those asked expect to be inspired by products and services. For more than one third of consumers, this concerns inspiration in the field of sustainability. De Bijenkorf’s ‘The Future is Green’ campaign is in response to this: one of the key missions of the Dutch department store is to inspire people to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. A majority of Dutch people think that department stores should set an example for smaller shops in this area (37 per cent agree, 15.3 per cent totally agree) and that department stores should actively pursue sustainability (68.9 per cent of respondents). A large majority (62.4 percent) is convinced that sustainability initiatives by department stores can have a positive impact on the future of society and the climate.

What does the department store of the future offer its customers?
The association with sustainability initiatives by department stores consists of using less packaging materials for 78.8 percent of respondents, sustainable delivery of orders for more than half of the respondents and 46.6 percent mention collaborations with sustainable partners. In view of these results, de Bijenkorf can report that, in addition to collaborating with partners such as Staatsbosbeheer, NLCares and Too Good to Go, it is on its way to becoming an ecologically responsible business.

New green services
The demand from consumers for more sustainable department stores does not only relate to the range of products and more sustainable processes. Consumers also want department stores to offer services that are traditionally not so obvious. In the future, department stores such as de Bijenkorf will have to offer more of an experience, and function even more as a source of inspiration and advice.

Dutch consumers are open to innovative services within a department store. Almost half of the respondents (47.4%) would like to buy second-hand clothes if offered and 65.7% would definitely/probably use a collection point for used clothes. A majority would also use sewing workshops in department stores or advice on home furnishing. According to de Bijenkorf, there are many promising green services around clothing and accessories that significantly reduce the impact on the environment – such as rental, subscription, vintage, alteration, repair, donation, sharing, exchange, in short: anything that extends the life of items.

The survey was conducted by PanelWizard among more than 1,200 Dutch people aged 18 and older, representative of gender, age, family situation, employment status, education and region. The results are valuable to de Bijenkorf because they provide insight into the expectations that Dutch consumers have of the role played by retail companies in society.

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