First it was the threat of out-of-town shopping centres and retail parks that offered easy, free parking, now its the Internet’s time to turn the screw, as it really begins to make it’s presence felt on the high street.
A great many potential shoppers spend time online looking for new and exciting things, as well as the best prices for the more mundane day-to-day. “Nearly one in three adults in the UK now uses a smartphone”, according to a report by the telecoms’ regulator Ofcom [read more]. How many million potential customers is that who will walk straight past an offline store? Too many! People surf the web while they travel on the train or bus; sit in a café waiting for a friend; sit in a café with a friend! They’re on the move and might just be looking for an impulse buy that, if a store isn’t visible online, won’t see.
It’s a fact that many retailers are being forced to close down their high street operations because they’re moving too slowly to reinvent themselves in this age of online shopping. They either don’t see the potential of a new site, believe that the shoddy site that currently does them a disservice online is all they can expect, or simply can’t afford to pay for a new site. The truth is that they can’t afford not to get a new site.
After the initial turn-of-the-millennium panic about the impact of eCommerce on their industry, the vast majority of high street outlets settled upon modest alterations to well established business models or even worse, tried to ignore the new threat. This still holds true unfortunately, which is a shame, as the changes required needn’t be massive in order to benefit from the huge potential of online sales.
Video source: BBC
UK consumers currently spend over £6 billion each month, 9.7% of that is due to online sales; that’s around £475 million per month. [read more] US sales rank at $200 billion a year with online sales accounting for a similar 9%. This trend has risen from 5% five years ago, and will only rise.
Twenty to forty year olds tend to do around a quarter of their shopping online, so retailers who target this demographic and who fail to embrace the new technologies are likely to go under, just as Borders, HMV and the US giant United Retail Group have already done. This target audience is only going to get bigger too, as they grow older, and are hardly likely to throw their devices away.
62,000 shops are forecast to close in next five years in the UK. That’s one in five shops that currently line the high street! Those able to thrive and survive will be the ones that are best able to adapt, the ones who offer their customers (and the customers of other, less adventurous outlets) the opportunity to browse and buy from them online. Is that you?