As shops close, traditional retail sales fall and in-store visits decline in the 21st century High Street, many are blaming the rise of online shopping. But rather than competing, the High Street stores that are tapping the potential of ecommerce web development are surging ahead. High Street stores are set to adjust with coffee stores in supermarkets, DJs in clothes and apparel stores and other awesome experiences to draw individuals in. As far as retail in the UK goes, High Street is where it’s at, for cities across the country. But things are changing for traditional stores, as a retail apocalypse sets in with the onset of virtual storefronts.
The numbers don’t lie. One study for Pathwwway saw retail employees in Britain fall by 2.4 per cent in Q1 of 2017. What’s driving the rapid transformation of High Street stores? It is none other than the internet and the rise of online stores. Post the looming Brexit and slower consumer spending, Springboard data shows that High Street footfall has declined recently. The remedy for this is the switch to ecommerce.
- Tapping Digital Storefronts
The biggest challenge for stores that refuse to embrace the change is the shift to digital. The UK’s Cards Association found Brits spend more online than any other nation in the world. Research by PwC also found Britons cannot get enough of online stores, with non-physical store sales up by 15% Y-O-Y. Now, people can shop for furniture from their living rooms or order shaving kits on the move. Access to goods has become so effortless that investing time and effort in going shopping no longer holds value. So, High Street brands are quickly making the shift to ecommerce websites and online store-fronts.
Consider how British retailer Marks & Spencer announced 1 in 4 of its 300 clothing and apparel stores will be closed, relocated or remodelled, while it shifts to the online model. The future of High Street will now be online, not with shopkeepers and traditional retailers, even if Napoleon once did remark that Britain was a nation of shoppers. The weak state of the pound post-Brexit, the high interest rates and the growing decline in disposable incomes are the culprits as 5,855 physical stores closed in the UK since 2010, with brands such as Maplin and Toys R Us failing as recently as 2018.
- Using the Online Storefront for Clicking With Customers
While Toys R Us may have failed, rivals like Smyths have prospered. Retailers in High Street who make the most of the opportunity offered by the online world will win. Online retail is a fact of life now. Ecommerce web development gives retailers a chance to expand potential customer base way beyond current physical reach. Through a web-based online store, one can sell 24/7, 365 days of the year, around the world, reaching audiences who would never have discovered your brand offline. Burberry, the UK High Street fashion brand, is a case in point.
High Street retailers are increasingly realising that it’s not about online or offline, but an integration of the two for a healthy, lucrative business. The internet is also finding new ways for potential customers to find stores easily on the 21st century High Street. This is through the website or online listings like Google My Business listings. The Google free listing appearing in localised and brand name searches, offering information such as images, store directions and opening hours. Creating and optimising the list is important. Online stores offer added advantages, enabling High Street retailers to showcase the business and bring in customers from search and other channels.
- Showcase Your Brand
Ecommerce sites enable your business to be able to showcase the brand. If you are a cafe or restaurant, you need to consider the menu, ingredients or images of the food. Ecommerce web development is the reason for UK retailers Barker & Stonehouse’s success. The company showcases its brand on its website and also has a Google Business View map which permits users to visit the store virtually. Online presence also enables brands to provide information about opening hours, in-store services, and show directions. Embedding Google Maps on the site so customers can use the phone to find the store on High Street is a wonderful idea.
- Make the Most of Multi-Channel Strategies
The combination of online store and shop offers a great experience for customers. Royal Mail research shows a staggering 93% of UK customers buy through online or in-store channels and the choice comes down to convenience. Multi-channel strategies can really work out for 21st century High Street. Click and collect is another well-known and popular option for online buyers. Research shows 72 per cent of UK consumers chose this option in 2016.
It serves to bridge the gap between offline and online channels. It even helps to boost business. Following ecommerce web development, you can make the transition to a brick and click store. According to a JDA research survey, 1 in 4 shoppers in the EU made additional purchases while collecting online orders in stores. Allowing customers to return online purchases to stores can help, too.
- Use Online Reviews for Stellar Reputation Management
As most retailers know, the consumer purchase decision journey comprises multiple touchpoints, starting on one channel and ending on another. Most customers research items online, before heading to the store to buy it or check out items in-store before making the purchase online. Pew Research Centre even found 62 per cent of in-store shoppers even check online reviews before making a purchase. Retailers need to adapt to the research online, buy offline model to succeed in a competitive retail landscape.
- Deploy Data-Driven Approaches
The value of ecommerce development for High Street retailers cannot be stressed enough. What can be learnt from selling online can be applied to improve in-store experiences of the customers. An online store allows ecommerce retailers to gather data on customer browsing and purchasing habits. For example, when Amazon opened a Seattle bookstore, it drew on a lot of online data. So, the UK High Street retailers could use the same tricks, and data from ecommerce sites could reveal products that are popular and boost inventory management. Reviews online can also encourage customers to make the purchase offline using social proof.