It has undoubtedly been a tough few years for the high street with many shops closing and the loss of many big-name brands. However, it is possible to breathe life into bricks and mortar retail stores with e-commerce.
The internet is often blamed for the demise of the high street, as more and more shoppers order goods from the comfort of their homes and spend less time in bricks and mortar stores. However, this simple argument demonstrates a lack of understanding of how digital works in the retail environment.
As we begin a new decade, retailers simply cannot afford to stand still – to survive they must deliver the experience that customers demand if they are going to have a successful future.
It goes without saying that 2019 was not a good year for all high street retailers. While challenging retail conditions and high business rates have played their part, there is no denying that shopping habits have changed and many retailers have simply not kept up.
One of the biggest areas of change for retail has been the usage of bricks and mortar stores. In the past, most retail stores measured success through sales made from in-person transactions. As a result, price became the key driver for retailers to attract customers and this has led to a growth in big sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, while these events may have delivered some short-term gains, for many it also signalled the start of the race to the bottom. With some retailers focusing on offering products as cheaply as possible, the long-term health of many businesses was severely jeopardised. Research has also shown that sale events have even been seen to devalue products and brands in the minds of consumers, the knock-on effect of this is that consumers become less likely to shop during non-discounted periods.
To break this cycle, retailers need to look at how they can improve the customer experience. Indeed, research clearly shows that if retailers are to survive over the next 10 years then they will need to focus on customer experience. With customers shifting their shopping habits and buying more and more products online, retailers need to ensure their customer experience matches these habits.