The high street has come under attack in recent years, with the boost in online sales putting a serious dent in a lot of retailers’ pockets. That means digital technology is normally thought of as being the death knell for the high street, but it could be time to take a different view—in fact, if retailers utilised available technologies to good effect they could increase footfall, boost profits and offer a better shopping experience as a whole.
Think about it—the public at large is glued to its mobile phone, so why not take advantage of that? A report by eConsultancy looked at the current state of the high street and offered recommendations on how retailers could use digital to their benefit, highlighting the importance of various digital tools in the quest to attract and retain customers. Let’s look at the humble website, for example. Even in the offline arena, a retailer’s website can be incredibly important—a whopping 96% of consumers use the internet to research a product before they buy it offline, and almost a third use their mobile to locate the nearest store. Isn’t it time you got your site up to scratch?
Online vouchers were also highlighted as having huge potential, being a great way to incentivise shoppers and attract the attention of those who wouldn’t normally shop there, and if you make sure to offer apps or mobile redemption rather than the traditional print-out method you could have even more of an impact. Then there’s the importance of social media—adding a personal touch, offering a bit of humour or even providing exclusive social media offers can all increase engagement, and that can encourage users to touch base when they’re shopping.
The report also looked at other digital tools that could make a difference, with things like free Wi-Fi, barcode scanners, QR codes, iPad ordering and similar initiatives all being possibilities. Things like this could boost the customer experience, encouraging shoppers to stick around and ultimately buy more, offering the “wow” factor that they can’t get through shopping online. It’s all about tapping into the possibilities that digital can offer, taking advantage of the shift in consumer trends towards ecommerce and mobile, because in the battle to save our high street we shouldn’t be scorning digital—we should be embracing it.