How can technology revitalise the High Street?

With online shopping on the rise, retailers are putting more focus on digital consumers rather than the shoppers who take the time to come in-store. But with online sales accounting for 21% of all retail in 2013 alone, consumers have made their preferences very clear. The freedom to shop at any given time or place is the new norm, but what could the high street do to maximise this and bring elements of online marketing into physical stores?

Personalise the High Street Experience

Merging in-store and e-commerce strategies could offer a valuable platform to create a personalised customer experience.

Providing a service similar to an online personal shopping experience would be a great way to maintain customer engagement. With technology being central to our lives these days, an app that allows customers to scan the barcode of an item that they like, which then links to an online database to produce matching accessories or shoes, would be a great way to maximise positive customer experiences – not to mention a valuable cross selling technique for retailers.

Providing the customer with a vision of their perfect look while they’re physically shopping in store gives them the best of both worlds. Collaborations between on and offline channels should play an integral part in the growth and expansion of today’s retail industry.

Increase the level of interaction between brand and customer

Customers could easily build relationships with both their favourite brands and retailers, and they want to be able to do so via their choice of technology. Apps in particular can enable a fast and convenient connection to customers and allow for instant communication while they shop.

Bluetooth beacons are an inexpensive and convenient way to transmit information and communications to customers while shopping in store, especially as Bluetooth is now compatible with most mobile devices and tablets. The platform could be used to provide offers or points schemes, or to help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for quicker than ever, avoiding the whole “show room” process.

This would be a really simple thing to do yet it has the possibility to be really successful. It’s a lot less invasive than email offers and promotions, and shoppers would be more likely to read and take advantage of the offers while they are physically in the shop.

Give the customer the power of choice

Lunchtime shopping seems to be becoming more and more popular these days, with people often browsing in their lunch hours then making a note to purchase online later, as they simply don’t have the time to stand and queue.

Stores must be prepared to accommodate this new trend of shopping, and facilitate a speedy checkout to retain in-store purchases and stop e-commerce snatching anymore footfall. Mobile technology could help shoppers find what they’re looking for more quickly, and an app could be created for a self-service style checkout. This would help close sales a lot quicker and increase them on a daily basis.

Make sure they are able to deliver on promises

It’s the most annoying thing when your size is out of stock or the item you really wanted is completely sold out; shops must ensure they are equipped to keep up with demand.

There’s absolutely no point in retailers promising customers these new and innovate services unless they have the capability to accommodate them efficiently. Technology can play a vital part in this and shops need to open up to the idea of letting technology help the situation improve.

Having a strong retail background myself, and being the owner of a digital marketing agency, I am passionate about collaborating in-store and online strategies to move the in-store shopping experience to the next level. Technology is evolving rapidly, and its innovate and exciting offerings to the retail industry are endless.

I am interested to see how the high street shapes up in the coming months and years; I think we could see a huge shift as more intelligent concepts emerge. This is such an exciting time and the high street needs to embrace it.

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