The UK high street is definitely changing. Some might even say it is dying because of the reports of declining sales and with the state of brands like BHS and Austin Reed. If the high street was dying, businesses like Amazon would not be opening physical outlets. The high street is not dying it is simply changing and evolving. And it is for good. With the advent and penetration of e-commerce and m-commerce, high street shops have to evolve also and modify their services, value offerings and shop designs among others to remain in the playing field and retain a competitive edge.
The good people at Rewarding Visits who help people find and get fantastic offers in their locales, Proxama who are using their Proximity Marketing product to help the high street and Snap Fashion who are redefining the concept and use of fitting rooms are part of those changing the high street for good. These three companies won a million pounds each last year from Innovate UK to develop innovations to boost the high street by increasing the number of shoppers to the high street and delivering a better shopping experience.
To retain the business advantage on the UK high street, shops are beginning to see the need to expand their focus to include strategies of blending digital technologies with their product and service offerings. John Lewis, Tesco and Argos are examples of business that are taking advantage of m-commerce and digital solutions with services such as their click and collect service which brings shoppers into their physical shops. Argos, as revealed at their Christmas in July event, last year became the first UK retailer to generate £1 billion from mobile sales. These companies are all part of those changing the face of the UK’s high street. With services such as shop insurance which cover both the high street and online shops, the UK’s high street can have the best of both the virtual and physical worlds. This does not apply to large chains only but to small retailers as well.
Online retailers are encouraged to explore offline outlets as it provides certain options to them which they would not have gotten online. These options include but are not limited to one to one customer service and better brand experience for the customer. JD Sports saw a 45% increase in their profits and this was surely not negatively affected by their opening of 38 new stores over Europe. Co-founder of StartUp Britain is quoted to have said “Most online retail start-ups are beginning to realise that in order to build a solid brand that will stand the test of time, they need to be offline in bricks and mortar as well as creating a good online presence.” With good shop insurance, online retailers can make the most out of having physical outlets on the UK’s high street.
Ultimately, players on the UK high street need to ensure that they are innovative with their products and services, are embracing the use of e/m-commerce to their advantage and are keeping themselves covered on all bases. They need to be part of those influencing the changing of UK’s high street and for their own good too.