By 2018, 44% of all in-store retail sales in Europe, or €920 billion, will be influenced by online research, up from 31% and €539 billion in 2013, according to Forrester’s first European cross-channel retail sales forecast. Northern European markets are driving cross-channel sales across Europe, with 72% of cross-channel sales coming from the UK, France, and Germany. The increase in web-influenced offline sales emphasizes the importance of a digital presence for Europe’s retailers, even if the final transaction isn’t completed online, Forrester analyst Michelle Beeson writes in the new report.

Beeson points to the mobile mind shift as one of the key drivers behind digital’s growing influence on physical store sales. “The near-ubiquitous connectivity of mobile devices, and smartphones in particular, gives shoppers a personalized and connected shopping aid in multiple contexts along the path to purchase,” Beeson explains. “Online retailers need to optimize their customer journey to take advantage of the ‘mobile moments‘ in which a customer needs service or information and uses his mobile device to obtain them.”

Other findings from the forecast, which is based on a recent Forrester survey of more than 13,000 consumers across seven European countries, include:

  • By 2018, the five categories with the largest share of sales taking place across channels will be household appliances, toys, electronics, computers, and sports equipment, with between 54% and 73% of total sales coming from cross-channel sales for these categories.
  • European online adults who purchased products in the past three months use Amazon in much the same way and frequency as search engines to discover products. This is particularly true in the UK and Germany, where it is the most popular research source, even above physical stores.
  • One-quarter of European online adults regularly research online before purchase, even though 55% do not regularly buy online.

For more information on the new report, “European Cross-Channel Retail Sales Forecast, 2013 To 2018,” read Michelle’s blog post.