Blog>Could This Be the End of Physical Shops?

Could This Be the End of Physical Shops?

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If you read the news or live on planet earth, then you’ve probably seen the constant headlines;

‘6000 shops close in a tough year for high streets’.

‘Hell on the high street continues Mothercare, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer and more closures lined up for 2018.’

‘Why legacy high street businesses like Homebase and House of Fraser are dropping like flies’.

I’m sure we’ve all walked down our local high-street and seen various ‘closing down sale’ posters along with a lovely array of boarded-up stores. But why is this happening we are in a generation that is obsessed with material goods so why are our shops suffering?

Are independent stores are failing to keep up with the big guns?

Funnily enough, no the failure of the high-street does not exclude anyone big or small.

ParcelHero reported that between 2020 and 2030 half of the UK’s existing shop premises would have disappeared. 100,000 stores will close, leaving just 120,000 shops on our high street. And that’s because by 2030 e-commerce will account for around 40 per cent of all UK retail sales.

What retailers can take from this is that if you want to remain competitive, then differentiation is critical, with e-commerce brands increasing in popularity in all industries, how do you compete with this?

My recommendation is to utilise that fact you have a physical store as you want to become a ‘destination’ for the consumer.

For example, Toys ‘R’ Us failed to compete with online retailers such as Amazon because what else did they offer apart from selling toys? Nothing. I’m sure you could agree, if you had the option to order your children’s toys online stress-free or in-store you would favour ordering online.

My point is, Toys ‘R’ Us should have differentiated themselves as an ‘experience’ by offering a play zone for children so that parents can shop without distractions (similar to IKEA’s childcare facility). Within this entertainment zone, they could have hosted various events to showcase new toys and create a place where children beg their parents to spend the whole day.

To stay ahead, you must adapt and adopt new technologies to differentiate your business!

A retailer that is utilising these technologies is JD, who are actively testing systems to eliminate queues and busy stores by having unstaffed checkout by implementing a sensor technology which tracks the consumer in-store and adds their items to a virtual shopping cart.

When the consumer leaves the store, the cart is transferred to a mobile app, and the payment is processed, eliminating the stress of shopping in the store!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks no queues sounds like heaven on earth!

Is this the end of physical shops?

In 2013 people were shocked that one pound in every ten was spent online, fast track to 2018 and its reported that it is now one in every five. In particular, shoppers are avoiding “dusty old department stores” and shopping on via their computers and phones instead.

So, the questions you need to ask yourself if you run a high-street store:

How do I stay relevant?

How do I make my customers loyal to me and not lose them to online competition?

What makes me unique?

What is essential to all of these questions is your engagement with customers, this is why many stores are losing their physical presence because they forget about their customers, if you ignore them, they will forget you.

Business loyalty apps like Flok, are rising in popularity. This service allows businesses to connect with their customers, rewarding them through the digital punch card, send personalised messages to their phones, remind them about events and so much more.

With services like this business owners can engage with customers 24/7, Flok also provides your business with a beacon, a small device with many capabilities;

  • Sends location-based reminders – when customers are in the area Flok will send them a personalised message from you promoting what you wish, new products, a sale or special event.

  • Greets customers with personalised messages when they walk into the store!

  • Flok notifies you when they enter, and, on your dashboard, shows you their profile, so you’re then able to adjust your customer service perfect for them.

  • Influence your customers throughout the store to purchase decision ‘don’t forget to check out the sale items at the back of the store!’.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘I can engage with my customers on social media’… And wouldn’t be wrong!

You can post constant content about offers and events, but it is easy to get lost in the crowd! This is why services like Flok are so beneficial, as it differentiates and gives character to the business!

77% of consumers said mobile offers and exclusive content has a positive impact on their brand loyalty. Personalised messages to each customer make them feel valued, which leads to strong customer retention rates!

The biggest issue that hinders retailers is not the availability of technologies, but instead the inability to understand and adopt the ones that will further their brand ethos.

If you don’t adapt to change, change won’t adopt you!