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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

  • 16 Feb

The UK High Street has weathered the storm

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When the age of Internet revolutionised the retail experience with the birth of online shopping, no-one expected the High Street to survive the sudden exodus of shoppers from its stores, and into the realm of the web.

However, recent reports are starting to show that “bricks” are just as important as “clicks” in the 21st century shopping arena.

Footfall recorded in January 2015 increased by 2 per cent: though it’s a small percentage the figure is significant, marking the first time in a decade that a January footfall increase has been recorded in the UK. It also follows a 2.7 per cent increase in December; the two successive months of growth since the same period in 2014 are showing that the high street has lived on through the effects of the Internet declining footfall volumes, and should now experience the benefits of the blossoming omnichannel retailing era.

High Street Retail Assist

In fact, our recent Valentine’s Day survey showed that 65% of people planned to buy their Valentine’s gifts in-store, a huge proportion, given that only 26% opted for online and just 9% for mobile and tablet.

One of the most common reasons for High Street visits is the “inspiration” that the shopping experience provides – and the demographic of “browsing shoppers” are being lost from websites failing to inspire them. A third of shoppers will give up browsing online after just ten minutes if they haven’t found something that catches their eye.

The most successful retailers are now concentrating their efforts across all retail channels with equal enthusiasm, and bricks-and-mortar stores are fundamental to omni-optimisation. Can your customer enjoy the inspiring shopper-tainment of a great physical store, and then transfer the experience elsewhere? For example, if an item in-store isn’t available in their size, can they order it on an in-store tablet device to be delivered to their home? Or can they enjoy browsing the online store on their mobile, and find the same new season trends easily in store?

Here are some top tips we would suggest for maximising your omnichannel experience:

  • Ensure that the ‘look and feel’ of your brand is applied to each channel: everything from your brand messaging, to seasonal campaigns. The consumer is looking for a shopping experience that can be replicated across each channel, providing a seamless experience.
  • Provide functionality that allows shoppers the choice that they are demanding: for example, click and collect delivery, order in-store, and the ability to return online purchases in-store.
  • Optimise your desktop site for mobile and tablet devices. Think about how your main navigation appears on a small screen, its readability, and ease of access. Are your items displayed clearly, with different views and the option to zoom? Optimising the payment sections on mobile sites is also extremely important: time consuming forms are a no-no on smaller screens.
  • If the online shopping journey is interrupted, or shoppers switch devices (i.e. from smartphone to laptop), make sure their basket is automatically saved and survives. No-one likes a wasted effort.
  • Think about investing in the latest technology geared to support omnichannel retailing. For example, Merret our omnichannel supply chain solution, can now be deployed on on-the-go tablet devices for ensuring omnichannel stock management best-practices such as ship from store.

As Sainsbury’s former Chief Executive Justin King argued: “The in-store experience will be much more resilient for much longer than every forecast currently had it, [but] shouldn’t we all be focused on making the in-store experience so brilliant that there’s nothing to fear?”

So, if you are interested in improving your in-store experience by delivering an omnichannel retail experience then please take a look at our website: www.retail-assist.co.uk. Or you can get in touch with us via email: info@retail-assist.co.uk or call us on: 0115 853 3910.

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