There’s been a lot of talk about the future of the high street. Online retail figures continue to climb as big-name high street brands struggle to stay afloat. Bricks-and-mortar retailers must evolve if they’re to compete with their pure-play counterparts. The winners will be those able to enhance the service experience each and every customer receives. And technology is the catalyst.
If you want to build the store of the future, you should already be laying the foundations. It starts with optimised networks, an online presence that’s mobile-ready and a business model that extends beyond the walls of your shops.
- Shop and awe. With cheaper alternatives online and innovative new delivery methods, bricks-and-mortar retailers must build on their strengths through personal contact and new interactive technology experiences like augmented reality. Shops need to ensure that the in store experience is enjoyable and rewarding.
- Service, service, service. Customer service has never been so important. Consumers know their own value. They have the power – and they’re using it. So, to keep customers loyal, retailers need to shift their focus from sales to service and provide a flawless, personalised and compelling customer experience. In-store staff should be armed with the tools to be able to provide this service – tablets and smart devices mean that staff can check stock or find product information in answer to shopper queries. This will help to drive transactional traffic in other channels too.
- Blur the boundaries. The boundaries between online and high street retailing will weaken as more of us browse products in-store via digital catalogues, take advantage of the expertise offered by in-store assistants and then make our purchases online for a convenient home delivery. Retailers must adapt their business models to meet the changing needs of the omnichannel customer. And they must ensure that consumers get a consistent experience across all channels; so what they experience in-store is replicated when they visit the online or mobile store, and vice versa.
- Help consumers play with price. RIP RRP. Real-time sales monitoring and continuously adjusted prices allow for increasingly personalised deals – all based on real-time information. Learning from games, retailers have the opportunity to engage consumers in reward schemes – providing them with a sense that they are “beating the system”. Something that cannot be achieved from the current voucher culture alone.
- Think mobile. It’s increasingly likely that the first contact a potential customer has with your brand is on a mobile device. What does your mobile presence say, and is it consistent with your in-store and online experience? Is it a stripped down version of your full website, designed to help your customers make a purchase on the go? Or is it a brief, engaging dip into the ocean of your brand, to excite and attract new customers? It is becoming possible to build unique mobile experiences for different audiences, so think mobile first and don’t take any shortcuts with this vital channel.
To be part of the High Street revolution, visit o2.co.uk/enterprise/jucu or call Matt Worth on 01235 433507. Or read our recent article ‘How digital is paving the way for the future of High Street retail.’