The High Street’s Future According to the Techs

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The High Street’s Future According to the Techs

Views from E-commerce Expo 2013

Visiting #ecommerceexpo today and in particular taking a pew at the “Future of the High Street” panel discussion, it is clear to understand that it is not appropriate to purely blame ‘online’ for the demise of the high street.  Out of town and big box malls all played a part in the challenges it faces today.  For many years the high street has been threatened by the out of town experience, it’s nothing new.  Indeed, by removing the experiential aspects of physical shopping, it is because of value, information and convenience that consumers buy products through the Internet today.

Firstly though, to set the scene for what’s happening with shoppers, it should be noted that today the volume of sales through desktop computers is flatlining.  For the most part, the growth in online retail sales is coming almost entirely from mobile devices.

The fastest growing device for shopping is the smart phone which was agreed by today’s panel of experts. Interestingly,”tablets are perceived as an extension of desktop computers”, claimed Glen Richardson from Fruugo to the audience at London’s Olympia.

By the sounds of it from the panel of experts that included speakers from Google, Nectar, Yelp and IMRG, it is smartphones that will govern the future of retail. That said, Martijn Bertstein from Google UK does not believe the high street is dead, instead he simply appreciates and focuses on the shift in the consumption of data.  ‘Information journeys’  to consumers are becoming much more complex he said.

“We see shops as 3D websites not as normal retail units” added Glen from Fruugo. Stores should be a place for ‘experience’ not just a location for ‘transactions’ and shopping apps don’t fix shoppers challenges as such.  Importantly, apps shouldn’t be deployed in centres, shops and online unless offering something unique to the consumer.

Made.com was flagged as an excellent example of how an Ecommerce website business is now occupying bricks and mortar on the high street.  It was suggested from the panel that companies like this will be the champions of the future.

Bertstein also pointed out, “it is the consumer that is educating the retailer, they [retailers] are playing catch up and it would be arrogant for retailers to try and educate consumers”.

Euan Blake, Account Director

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