Sunday, 8 October 2017

Retail continues to grow but is it online rather than offline ?


Retail continues to grow but is it online rather than offline ? There are two conflicting stories in the media this week that show how retail is transforming. The first relates to the fact that retail sales are the highest they have been in 3 years. But at the same time there are stories that a massive 62,000 jobs have been lost from the retail sector. Obviously there feels like there is some contradiction in these figures but it begs the question -

Retail continues to grow but is it online rather than offline ?

Any economy needs strong retail sales. It is the backbone of an economy, not the housing market as the current government seems to believe. As a nation, we have been through peaks and troughs with retail. Some big names have disappeared from the High Street and they are often replaced by empty shops. It isn’t the best commercial for any visitor to the country that we are open and ready for business.


The High Street itself has had an identity crisis. Town planners have been guilty of letting any new tenant into a vacant shop and we have ended up with skewed High Streets that are not always fit for purpose. I can see a future where the city centres and major shopping centres are full and vibrant while provincial towns end up looking like a ghost town. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Retail continues to grow but is it online rather than offline is a valuable question but the answer doesn’t have to be one or the other. Showcasing products in a showroom environment is something that Amazon have looked into extensively. There might be a series of games consoles, for example, where shoppers can sample and play before placing an order online – maybe even to be collected from the same store. The experience people have in store has a major effect on whether they buy. Why not make it all an experience and let them come to you when they want to buy? It’s quite a bold move for retail, but other industries show that it can work. If people feel great when in your store, then they will step forward to buy rather than you having to chase them. Retailers that offer a collect in store facility find that those collecting spend money while they are here. Isn’t this a future that retail should be embracing?


Retail continues to grow but is it online rather than offline ?


The solution starts at the top and spreads through each of us. Government policy should be right. Town planners should think carefully about how a High Street looks, feels and develops to avoid a sea of coffee shops and very little else. Retailers need to up their game and provide an experience that makes people want to –

  • Come back time and time again
  • Tell their friends and family
  • Spend with a local retailer rather than with a national or multinational chain

Retail continues to grow but is it online rather than offline ? I don’t now why it can’t be both – do you? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments box below. Do you think that the High Street deserves to be saved? Are there easier ways of solving this issue than the blunt tools we are currently using?

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