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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 19, 2011

High street stores will evolve into showrooms

A recent report from Verdict Research suggests retailers that remain trading on the high street will need to offer a very different shopping experience to future shoppers as mobile and Internet spending rises.

by Helen Leggatt

Verdict Research's Webloyalty Online Retail report reveals that online retail is growing six times faster than high street sales and that, by 2014, Internet transactions will reach $60 billion.

In the last 10 years around 40,000 stores have left the high street and malls and moved online, including familiar brands such as Littlewood, Woolworths, and Etam.

Those stores that do remain open will have to provide a very different shopping experience in years to come, predicts Neil Saunders of Verdict Research.

"By 2014, we predict the high street will become less about shopping and more about the experience," he said, adding "Apple is ahead of the game, where their stores have already become a destination rather than just a shop."

Stores will come to resemble showrooms where consumers can try out and learn about different products, be educated by sales staff, and where purchases can be made from anywhere in the store via handheld devices carried by staff.

For some retail categories, such as books and music, there is little need for a hands-on retail experience and those stores will most likely disappear from the high street in time. However, for others such as clothing and electronics, consumers like to try before they buy.

"The onus is now on retailers to rethink their high street presence in order to remain competitive. Technology can improve the way customers interact in store," said Martin Child, Managing Director (Europe) of Webloyalty.

"For instance, customers can 'check in' with their mobile phones upon entering a store to receive on the spot discounts. But retailers can't just rely on foot-fall anymore - online is crucial for today's success. Mobile is the secret for tomorrow."

Tags: ecommerce, Internet, mcommerce, mobile, online retail, online shopping, stores

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