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Retail has experienced significant changes throughout its entire history. From the first market stalls to the most recent super-sized hypermarkets there has been one constant – to give the customer what they need, what they desire and to beat the competition.
What is influencing the changes on our High Street?
Retail technology has shifted from being just a practical necessity, and retail owners are now facing new challenges as a result of the changing dynamics within the industry and technology evolution.
Online shopping has soared since its arrival, but this doesn’t mean that the high street must suffer. Sadly, the UK has witnessed many famous retailers go into administration, but those that remain are embracing new technologies to fight the battle between bricks and mortar stores and online experiences.
Shopping is no longer about making purchases, it’s a social activity combining customers’ preferences, habits and personalised experiences. Most retailers have presence online resulting in their physical stores becoming places where they sell products, and just as importantly, a place to represent their brand.
The rise of the ecommerce shopper
As sales of internet shopping continue to soar, so does the need for bricks and mortar shops to provide links between in-store and online shopping experiences.
– Internet shopping rocks the world of consumer habits
- Pizza Hut accepts its first online order
– Ebay and Amazon were launched
– PayPal is launched
– Ericsson release the first smartphone
– Amazon launches its first site for use on mobiles
– Palm release the first phone able to browse the web
– Facebook hits 100,000 business pages
– Online sales in the UK reach £13.7billion
As lives get busier the less time shoppers have to interact with sales assistants and owners. We live in a time when information can be accessed, and goods can be ordered by a click of a button and human interaction can be seen as an irritation.
Bridging the gap between online and physical stores
Virtual reality. The introduction of this immersive experiences is incredibly versatile. It allows shoppers to virtually try on clothes and make-up to influence sales with a personalised touch. And if a consumer wishes to buy an item to customise the use of a VR head set allows them to channel their thoughts into reality.
Smart features. We live in an age where we can get instant gratification by a click of a button or a swipe of a screen. To move this into stores, retailers are incorporating touchscreen technology into their sales strategies. Smart mirrors in changing rooms are a great example where a customer can summon an assistant to bring different sizes, view complete collections, have suggestions for accessories and be able to order, pay and have it delivered to their home the next day if out of stock in store.
The internet of things. Retailers are fusing together the offerings of their physical stores with their customers’ devices. Let’s take the Abode store for example where the shoppers use a shopping bag with a radio-frequency identification chip inside it. Once the shopper has browsed the store they take their selected items into the changing room. The clever technology in the bag allows the customers to see all their chosen goods on a flat screen and gives them the option to purchase from their device.
The Treasure Hunt effect
One of our clients TK Maxx is leading the way when it comes to thinking differently and it doesn’t involve any kind of technology. The company constantly rotates their stock so the shopper always sees something new when they step inside encouraging spontaneous purchases. Moving the displays will also give the impression that if you see something you like, buy it, as you’ll probably not see it next time you visit the store.
This treasure hunt effect is hard to replicate online but with the consumer believing that they are finding ‘treasures’ they’ll keep returning.
What the future holds
Quite simply we don’t have the answer to that. But what we do know is that retailers are embracing technologies and thinking of different ways to excite the shopper. It sounds to us like bricks and mortar shops are here to stay and the future’s bright!
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Mobile Technology for Smart Retailers
If only there were ways for the High Street to maximise technology to compete with the rise of online shopping.