Mr Torfs says the rise of online has radically changed the retail landscape. At the Torfs shoe company online sales make up 16% of sales. Consumers are also spending more on entertainments like Netflix and smartphones and less on clothes and footwear.
The footwear supremo believes high street shops still have a future, but that the “experience” dimension needs to be beefed up.
But when he looks at the number of free returns of online purchases a frown graces Wouter Torfs’s face. He says he doesn’t want to become the first Belgian web shop to end free return of online purchases, but believes the situation – with 26% returns for his company alone – is untenable. He believes the matter must be settled by European legislation to maintain a level playing field and points to the benefits: fewer vans to-ing and fro-ing!
Wouter Torfs also urges Belgian consumers to shop at Belgian online retailers because nowadays a lot of cash is flowing abroad and isn’t benefitting the Belgian economy. Moreover, he accuses Belgian consumers of often being two-faced: “We all want to be as politically correct as possible, but as far as our wallet is concerned, we want the cheapest! We don’t ask where it’s made or how.”