The high street is dead – long live the high street.
These are the words that spring to mind when hearing the views of the 1,500 shoppers and 1,500 retail employees we surveyed across the UK and Ireland.
For those willing to invest in the right digital tools for the store and transform the physical shopping experience, the potential gains are huge.
Currently, however, there is a stark divide between online and in-store technology.
It’s not that the high street hasn’t invested in technology, but it has tended to do so in isolation from – rather than in parallel to – its ecommerce counterparts.
So online and offline customers are left with two distinct and detached experiences.
Yet consumers tell us they want physical channels to reflect digital ones. They want a personalised experience and a seamless journey from one touch point to the next.
If the high street is to thrive, not merely survive, it’s time to close that gap.
Check out the video below for more
The story so far
Two-thirds of UK and Ireland retail employees already use tools like mobile points of sale, digital enquiry points and smart checkouts multiple times a day. And almost all of them say those tools have had a positive impact on their role.
Even more telling: most of them believe in-store technology has helped their organisation grow.
But while things may look positive on the surface, cracks become visible when you delve a bit deeper.
Two-fifths of consumers have a poor experience with technology either often or every time they visit a shop.
They call it slow, unreliable, immobile. Some say it simply doesn’t look the part or that employees aren’t trained to use it properly.
For employees themselves the complaints are not dissimilar.
They say there isn’t enough technology to cater for all staff, and the technology they do have is often more of a hindrance than a help.
Many workers admit to falling back on their own devices to solve customers’ problems, while three-quarters of shoppers say they can access more information than employees using their smartphones.
What high street shoppers want
The problems above may be alarming, but they needn’t be permanent. By investing in the right technology now, you can significantly boost your chances of enjoying a long and prosperous future on the high street.
The easiest way to know whether you’re providing what retail consumers actually want is by asking them, and that’s exactly what we did.
They told us they want in-store technology to provide a quicker service, help them order out-of-stock items and access more product information.
But they also want to see the kind of benefits they’ve enjoyed online for years: 46% called for personalised in-store offers, while many want access to smart mirrors and a seamless biometric payment process.
And they’re willing to trade their personal data in return for these perks. This is a huge opportunity to learn more about your customers and provide them with a service fit for 2017 and beyond – one that matches or even exceeds the experience they have online.
The time to act is now
The net result of not making these changes?
What if I told you three in four shoppers would trust Amazon or eBay to provide a better in-store experience than existing high street brands, and that they’d choose them over traditional names if they could?
Not an immediate threat, you could argue, but certainly something that should make you take notice given that Amazon recently announced plans to open checkout-free physical stores in the UK.
But this isn’t all about doom and gloom. Dangers lie ahead only for those who fail to act. For those that do invest now, the opportunities are equally great. If not greater.
Three-quarters of consumers say a positive experience with in-store technology would make them spend more money in a shop, while many say it would make them more likely to buy from their in the first place.
Far from being dead, the high street is ripe for disruption.
As a traditional retailer, the choice you have to make is whether you’ll be the one disrupting it.
Download the full report to find out more
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