It has been well documented in the media that the high street is suffering. In 2018, Toys R Us and Maplin stores were vacated, and trade ceased. Even the infamous discount stores did not survive unscathed, as Poundworld closed its doors for the last time.
As well as this, you may remember that music retailer HMV seem to have set the tone for 2019, being the first to announce that they were facing financial difficulties — although they were later saved by an external investor. However, the same cannot be said for Debenhams who recently announced countless store closures.
Just because the high street is suffering, doesn’t mean retail sales are underperforming elsewhere. Digital sales in retail have more than tripled in the last 10 years, with online spending equating to 18% of all sales in the sector. Stock availability and an extensive range of delivery options are partly responsible for the surge in e-shoppers, with supportive user journey’s and simplified checkouts sealing the online splurge for many.
Did you know that predictions have said that the high street will no longer exist in the next 10 years? But could retail find an unsuspecting ally in the form of search engine giant, Google?
An insight into the sector
People still value the traditional shopping experience, and it accounts for most sales. The task at hand for the high street is to optimise customer experience, making it feel as convenient and straight-forward as online shopping. Companies such as Marks & Spencer and EE are already acknowledging the shift in value of the in-store experience, while technologies such as AR and VR are becoming increasingly commonplace, with Google’s own product ‘Google Cardboard’ pioneering the integration of simulated reality in retail.
There could be a solution though. Implementing the omni-channel nature of e-commerce into retail stores seems near impossible, but a London start up, Near St, are curating digital displays of stock from shops and making them available online. It will enable shoppers to visit the store online prior to them taking to the street, saving time and avoiding any wasted journeys.
Creating greater visibility of your offline site online
As well as this, there are just as many opportunities online to take advantage of. Many businesses across the nation are already embracing Google, using their ‘Google My Business’ tool to create a profile for themselves with useful information such as a contact number, opening hours and address. Almost half of all Google searches last year had local intent, showing the necessity for the service.
To ensure success, businesses also need to be enhancing their digital marketing strategies and adding digital features to their in-store services.