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  • 15 Aug

Do we really need to “save” the high street?

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News dominating the retail headlines this week: the high profile closure of BHS’ flagship store on Oxford Street. Videos of the last minute shut-down scramble for 80% discounted goods, and the shutters finally closing on the crumbling, 88 year old brand. The last of BHS’s total 163 stores are scheduled to close on August 20th.

Commentary from John Ryan at Retail Week puts BHS’s demise down to “falling behind”:

Cue lamentations and commentary asking how this could have happened. It happened, bluntly, because both shops and stock weren’t, latterly, up to much

And yet, track back just one week – we had glowing reports of a sunny July accounting for a retail sales rebound of 1.1 per cent, and a recovering high street. On a total basis, sales rose 1.9 per cent, against a 2.2 cent increase in July 2015. Nonetheless, the BRC said this was the “strongest growth since January”.

high street

So, does the high street really need “saving”, as many daily papers have headlined for the past year? We think it requires a more sophisticated approach. In today’s omnichannel world, the store needs to be much more than just a store. In a recent survey we conducted, we found that the biggest High St advocates were Gen Z – the up and coming younger generation, with a newly found spending power and a connectedness across all channels. 84% of them see shopping as part of their day out activities, and so the customer experience must be prioritised.

With a growing appetite for convenience, and a need for seamless digital integration, stores need to become a critical part of your retail strategy to service the “need it now” desire. Product showing as out of stock online? It shouldn’t be, if the product is hanging in abundance in one of your stores. Not available in-store? There should be the ‘endless aisle’ option to shop your entire inventory in-store on responsive tablets.

As always, it’s about joining up your retail offering across channels, ensuring that your stock is visible in real time, inventory is flexible ready to fulfil orders across any channel. As Retail Week’s latest industry snapshot revealed (LCP Consulting Report), retailers with omnichannel capabilities are twice as likely to report double digit growth.

If you’re looking for technologies that will influence the future customer journey, sign up for our latest event: a concept pop-up technology store, in partnership with Karen Millen. Coming to Hoxton for just 3 days only 21st-23rd September, retailers are signing up to be taken on an interactive experience, with in-store technology that is affordable, easily deployable, and available now. Registration for a Nexpo tour can be completed in just 1 minute, using the following link: www.retail-assist.co.uk/nexpo

nexpo

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