It is a generally accepted fact that online shopping is killing the high street. In the first six months of 2016 over 2,500 high street shops closed. In contrast, online sales in December 2016 rose by 21.3%. It seems that Britain’s shoppers cannot resist the ease, convenience and speed of e-commerce. And when online providers can offer next day or even same day delivery, the lure is obvious. In fact, the prognosis from ParcelHero is that the death of the high street is just over a decade away.
Of course, retailers can try to fight back and many have, going on the defensive by launching their online stores with online discounts and reward schemes.
However, is there a potential for the high street to go on the offensive? Could the high street utilise technology to offer shoppers something that online retailers cannot by combining visual technology, social media and digital engineering to create not just a shopping opportunity, but a shopping “experience”.
The move towards technology on the high street has already begun, with big name brands testing the waters. Ted Baker’s spring/summer 2017 campaign used live video streaming within its stores to create an interactive and unique shopping experience, using technology to engage directly with shoppers. Accessorizes’ new store at Westfield London uses LED panels featuring immersive content to connect with shoppers and offer them a personalised experience, ranging from choosing the stores playlist to curating their own individual Trend Edits on a bespoke iPad.
While the high street may never be able to beat the online world for convenience and ease, it is clear that with teamed with the right technology it can, and is, starting to engage with a new generation of shoppers to make shopping itself an experience and not just a means to an ends.