No matter who you ask, 2018 was not a great year for high-street retail. With over 1300 stores closing across the UK’s high street’s in 2018, where did all the shoppers go?
In today’s time-poor world, gone are the days where shoppers love nothing better than meandering down their local high-street, popping from one shop to the next in pursuit of that golden afternoon of retail therapy. We would much rather be glued to the little device in our pockets.
From the minute we wake up, 80% of us smart-phone users check our device within 15 minutes – we have become on-the-go shoppers.
Think about the countless emails we receive encouraging us to shop, as well as the programmatic targeting and personalisation of our social media platforms; the path to purchase has changed for many. We happily ignore the trip to the high-street and simply make our next desired purchase in just a couple of clicks.
Retailers and brands are therefore now being forced to play catch up.
With 1 in every £5 now spent via the internet, retailers' eCommerce platforms and brand communication strategies online are crucial to their success. If your shopping experience is not seamless, or supported by an integrated brand journey, then a shopper’s willingness to purchase will quickly waver.
We would however be foolish to believe that the high-street is dead. Just look at ASOS’ surprise profit-warning in the run up to Christmas…
In 2019 therefore, the high-street still has a crucial role to play for many, and this is something no pure player has been able to replicate; retail stores offer the chance to speak to shoppers directly.
Those retailers thriving – the likes of Selfridges, who reported a record-breaking Christmas last week, is one retailer who has embraced the concept of the evolution of the high-street; one that has evolved from a place where we physically purchase something, into a place where we want to learn and experience, and instead opt to purchase later via our mobile device at home or on-the-go.
Some retailers are also responding to the customer demand for quality expert-advise from store staff, and are sending their staff on training courses to ensure they become educated on their product areas.
But brands too are keener than ever to embrace the high-street for the very same reason.
Take Dyson as an example who have their own brand experience store opposite Selfridges on Oxford Street. Here you can test out its products and speak to experts about the product right for you. Samsung are shortly set to follow suit with a flagship creative store in Kings Cross, which promises to offer a personal experience of Samsung products in ways shoppers hadn’t previously expected, nor find elsewhere. These types of stores are popping up on our high-streets as brands and pure players out there (like Made.com) look to fulfil the evolution of today’s modern on-the-go shopper needs.
From technology to beauty to home, we are a nation of shoppers who thrive off others telling us why we should buy or engage with something. Retailers, in partnership with their brands, must therefore focus on delivering that in-store knowledge and experience to stand out from the competition and clinch that sale.
Only those who embrace this reinvention of retail, creating a truly integrated omnichannel experience, are likely to succeed.