It's probably no surprise to you that every time you visit the high street these days your favourite shop has closed down or has large banners in windows screaming about a closing down sale and how you can grab a bargain, it's a really sad state of affairs.
In 2018/2019 some of the most prestigious high streets stores have gone into liquidation or have got themselves into serious trouble because of their stores simply not performing. Toys R Us, House of Fraser, Patisserie Valerie and one of the more recent, Debenhams, have all been victims.
So, how and why is this happening and how can we end the misery and complaining of high street store disappearance. Something needs to change, and for me it’s all about creating the perfect digital presence and road map, not enough people are doing it and from my point of view it’s a complete slap in the face and huge wake up call for large, old fashioned companies to get their backsides into gear to develop and progress with their digital presence and road map.
From reading and from research it’s clear to me that we are on the verge of a complete reversal where a companies digital platform or eCommerce website will have to (not may need to) support and fund high street store presence and this makes total sense. It has been reported recently that one in every 5 pounds spent with UK retailers is done online and this is only going to grow over the next few years.
Recently, I was involved in a conversation with a high profile gentleman on the topic of the high street where they had disagreed with me about supporting local and independent stores as well as large retailers such as River Island and Topman. He went on to say how we should all be out there supporting the high street to make sure it survives and thrives.
Let’s look at the at shopping online vs shopping on the high street.
Benefits of Shopping Online
Efficient as you can access millions of retailers on any device at any time of day.
You can see exactly what is in stock and what is not
Next Day Delivery and Returns
You can pay with hundreds of different card providers and don’t need to go to the bank for cash
You can chat to people immediately via communication technology to get advice
You can instantly send gifts to others
Find products is so easy with filtering and search facilities
There’s always a tonne of variety on offer from colours, to sizes to customisation on clothing or shoes
There are no crowds, I don’t need to queue
No sales pressure
You can buy products discreetly
Often better pricing and discounts
You can track every single part of a user journey to purchase and learn from people
You can collect big data amounts automatically
You can send promotional offers direct to inboxes
You can remarket products to people straight away once they have left your store
Offer discounts upon someone leaving the checkout
We can wear our slippers and shop for hours with a tasty beverage from the comfort of our homes.
Benefits of shopping on the high street
You can physically touch, feel, hear or smell the physical product
You can try on products to see how they fit
You can get professional advice face to face
I’m really struggling here guys….
So lets swiftly move on to the con’s of the two
The problems with Online Shopping
We cannot physically touch, feel, hear or smell the product. However on a really positive note with the rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for web we take that final step closer of being able to shop exactly like we do on the high street right from our own home.
You cannot try or demo the product
The problems with High Street Shopping/Stores
Huge staff over head
Huge rent and property overheads along with all of the bills that come with it such as council tax, electric bills and so on.
Customers have to travel into town, pay for travel, pay for parking, walk for miles to find the store you’re looking for that then turns out to not have your specific product in stock and or is not available at all. You’re then told “have you tried online?”
Seasonal periods such as Christmas can get ridiculously busy therefore you’ll have to stand in a queues and fight the traffic
You cannot collect data from a person unless you ask them face to face which is really awkward. People will give you their details for free all day long when shopping online if you can offer them a small discount.
I really think all of the above is a huge driver of information on how people now like shop and if the high street is going to survive and survive the only answer is to improve your online retail presence and sell, sell, sell. This in turn will increase turn over, profits and margins which will allow your high street store to be upon held.
Huge changes are coming and all retailers need to be able to adapt efficiently and effectively. The high street can strive, but right now, it needs to survive.
Here are a list of very good articles that provide key information on how the high street is changing.