In 2018/2019 some of the most prestigious high street stores have gone into liquidation or have got themselves into serious trouble because 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 complaints surrounding high street stores disappearance? For me, something needs to change: 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 a huge wake-up call for large, old fashioned companies to get themselves into gear to develop and progress with their digital presence and road map. From reading and research, it’s clear to me that we are on the verge of a complete reversal where a company’s 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. The gentleman 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 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 with 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’s 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 struggling here, guys….
So let’s swiftly move on to the cons of the two
The problems with Online Shopping
- We cannot physically touch, feel, hear or smell the product. However on a positive note with the rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for the web we take that final step closer to being able to shop exactly as 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
- The huge staff overhead
- Huge rent and property overheads along with all of the bills that come with it such as council tax, electric bills and so on
- You have to travel into town, pay for travel, pay for parking, and walk for miles to find the store they’re looking for that then turns out to not have the 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 will have to stand in queues and fight the traffic
- You cannot collect data from a person unless you ask them face-to-face, which can be awkward. People will give you their details for free all day long when shopping online if you can offer them a small discount
I think all of the above is a huge driver of information on how people now like to 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 turnover, 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 is a list of very good articles that provide key information on how the high street is changing.
- Store sales with online retail sales: August 2018
- What next for the high street
- Is it time for retailers to throw in the towel?
- Forbes – Death of the high street
- Five trends shaping the future of eCommerce
- High Street vs online fashion retailers
If you’re looking to start your eCommerce store or want us to support you on your next eCommerce venture, then please get in touch with us, we can help.