It is pretty common knowledge that the development of eCommerce and online shopping has helped with the slowing success seen by retailers on the high street.
According to the Retail Think Tank (RTT) experts have put the recent high street chaos down to 2018 being the worst year for non-food retail since the financial crisis. While additional factors such as Brexit and consumer uncertainty are at the forefront of the reduction in retail footfall, it is online that has stood the test of time and taken the most consistent blame for the current situation.
Studies show that the consumer is being enticed away from high street stores towards online due to the flexibly, cost and convenience of being able to consume at a time and place that is best for them. The options that online shopping gives consumers is unapparelled, with enough time you can quickly become an expert in the product you intend to buy, explore all options, reviews, issues and buy accordingly. In truth, online success is driven by cost, online retailers are able to offer a lower price due to the lack of overheads driven from store maintenance and upkeep costs.
With this in mind, we have taken some time to highlight 7 key areas where we think traditional, high street retailer offer a better overall retail experience.
When shopping on the high street you do not have to consider the logistics of delivery times, when you will be home or neighbour availability. When you look at the time associated with all of these elements there is very little time difference between online and offline shopping. Click and collect are now long-established retail practices with major retailers still struggling to stay on top of the demand during periods of high demand such as Christmas and Cyber Monday. But given that you still have to leave home, within an agreed time window to collect your item, you may as well just go shopping.
2 Try before you buy
This is a particular important point for fashion retailers, it is commonly known that customers prefer to try on clothes, shoes and other fashion items before they buy. This is also an important point when considering countless other products. The look and feel of an item is an important part of the buying process, something that online will likely never be able offer customer.
3 Expertise & Advice
Retail outlets, especially independent retailers are an outlet for expert advice and experience. While it is impossible to stock the range of products available online, the products in a high street store are more commonly selected for their quality and suitability for purpose over profit margins. The owner offers customers years of product knowledge and experience, freely giving advice to potential customers.
Online reviews are an excellent way of gauging the quality of a product, however not all reviews can all be taken on face value. The motives of the reviewer are unknown, are the reviews you are reading honest? Are they left by friends and family members looking to boost the profile of the item or retailer? Have the issues raised in poor reviews been resolved? It is important to do your research and consider reviews. The benefit of transacting with brick and mortar retailers is that they will typically understand any product issues and have advice or alternatives to counter any previous issues.
The High Street is the hub of any community and vital to the development and growth of the local area. A successful, thriving high street gives business, investors and residents confidence in the area and its development. Being part of the community, getting to know the regular faces and being known in the area as your go about your business can be incredibly rewarding. Taking the time to walk around town, shop across multiple stores and be part of a community is something the internet has really struggle to mirror. While there are community groups and forums for almost every town, city, shop and product, there are no services online that can mirror the friendly wave of the postman or the smell as you stroll past a florist.
5 Time Efficient
The internet offers us everything in a click, speed, efficiency and convenience are just some of the benefits of shopping online. But in truth, there is not a huge amount of time saved when shopping online. The time you spend researching your product, reading reviews, and studying the completion mounts up. Additionally, by the time you complete your transaction, pay a little more for next day delivery and adjust your diary for delivery you could have just popped to the high street. As mentioned above, an experienced retailer will have done a lot of the leg work for you, they understand the dynamics of their industry and the problems is encounters.
6 Impulse Buying
The High Street offers customers the opportunity to browse and take advantage of impulse purchases – it is fun, it can make us happy and allows us to purchase goods that we may not have been aware of. How many times have you bought a gadget and discovered you also need to buy batteries? This is a common issue online, but in a high street store, your experienced retailer will share that insight and make sure you go home with everything you need to enjoy your purchase.
7 Customer Service
Returns, problems, issues and advice are much better received when shopping on the high street. Online Shopping typically give consumers a cheaper initial price, but these savings are not made from the product retail price or profit margins, it is customer services that suffers most commonly. Resolving product issues and flaws can be difficult. It is common to find it hard to speak to someone about your issue or establish a base for help when resolving issues. When it comes to customer service in retail, there is not much that can beat the level of service delivered by a good high street retailer.
The growth of online is applying a lot of pressure on high street retailers. It has forced companies to completely readjust their thinking, approach and business model to counter the shift in consumer behaviour. There have been many casualties in the retail space with the number of retail stores closing maintaining a consistently worrying pace through 2018.
The benefits of high street shopping are being commonly identified by the customer and there is talk of an imminent shift in consumer behaviour, sparking a high street revolution. This is something we are calling High Street 2.0. The value from high street stores is offered through expertise, customer service and retail experience. To survive, retailer much adapt and engage with technology to blend online and off-line experience.
We are focused on delivering technical solutions for retailers that allow a smooth integration of technology and customer motivations to offer tangible value and reason for both retailers and advertisers.