GAME: Digital threat is ‘overblown’

Ian Shepherd has warned that the switch to online content and digital distribution will come much slower than the pundits claim.

But, nevertheless, the new CEO of GAME said the retail giant is preparing itself for the digital era by evolving into a ‘multi-channel’ brand.

The market is down 17 per cent year-on-year – it’s lost almost a fifth of its size – but there are lots of positives for GAME Group,” he told MCV this week as the retail group announced a similar year-on-year sales decrease of 17.8 per cent in its UK stores.

Once the expected Christmas rush is out of the way, long-term growth will come from online and a smarter use of its Reward Card audience, said Shepherd.

Our online market share across the group is much lower than bricks and mortar – but it doesn’t have to be that way. We want to bring online and retail together, and use the best of the web in-store and use the site as a driver for in-store physical sales. The growth we can unlock from that is significant.”

It’s a contrast to conventional wisdom that says the switch to online sales – physical or digital – is a swift, one-way journey.

A customer wants to own a physical product. All the surveys tell us that – boxed product will be here for a long time.

I am deeply conflicted over the digital download space. On the one hand I look at the industry and think yes, it’s overblown as a concept. The notion we will switch overnight to a market focused on digital is clearly farfetched.”

Nevertheless, GAME will find its place in the online world, he added.

The flipside of it is that digital is an important part of the industry, it’s growing and is genuinely exciting. Is digital a big cloud on the horizon for GAME Group? That’s not the case at all. When industries go online, offering goods in that space is still retailing – you’re just doing it in a different place.”

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