What does the future hold for Retail? The high-street is dead, Retail is dead are sayings that are thrown around. It is really dead? There was an article where it was said that the high-street/retail isn’t dead , it just needs to reinvent itself. This is so true.
Many of the big companies that we have known and loved have disappeared Woolworths, Blockbuster and now HMV disappearing from the high-streets. So many retailers and businesses gone. Why is this? These businesses are/were popular, they were outstanding in their field and had a good following. People blame technology and partly this is true. You no longer needed to access these stores, these businesses and they slowly disappear and everyone was gutted.
These businesses had the following, they had the reputation and customer base but they all had one thing in common. Lack of innovation, Lack of forward thing and in some cases the wrong types of investment.
We all know the story about Blockbuster and Netflix. For those that don’t read the article here. The basics are that the CEO of Blockbuster had the opportunity to purchase Netflix for $50 Million but it felt it was a niche business and couldn’t see any future in it. Again, we all know how wrong he was.
The CEO of Blockbuster wasn’t a stupid made he made a mistake. Blockbuster were at the top of their game and fairly unrivalled in their field and felt they were untouchable. This didn’t stop technology developing around them, this didn’t stop other companies investing in the future and moving with how consumers and times were changing.
I suppose the lesson is simple and we don’t really need to highlight it, but if it really is that simple then why are more and more businesses closing? Why are businesses not thinking ahead and how they can change to offer a better service? That’s another question and blog in itself.
The lesson is innovation. The lesson is don’t get stuck doing something just because that’s what we’ve always done or you could be the next Blockbuster. You could be winding up the company and back on the employment line.
We know this might be a bit over dramatic but let’s look at Blockbuster or HMV, if these companies had the right people in place looking at innovation, looking at technology and thinking that all important question – HOW CAN WE STAY RELEVANT? Maybe, things might have been different.
Aside from the introduction of the self-service checkout the in-store shopping experience has not significantly developed or changed in decades despite online shopping being at the forefront of how consumers purchase. Retailers have introduced ‘scan as you shop’ technologies but it’s not really been enough.
Amazon Go has recieved it’s fair share of press and headlines by introducing a checkout-free in-store shopping experience. How successful this will be or not remains to be seen but they are looking to the future and trying new approaches to win a larger slice of the pie and remain relevant.
Since launching their scan & go in 2011 Tesco has rolled the service out to 500 of its stores, while Waitrose first launched ‘Quick Check’ service in 2002 and now offers a mobile ‘Quick Check’ service, meaning the customer doesn’t need to use the scanners. Waitrose says ‘Quick Check’ has established a “loyal customer base” and is used in a “significant proportion” of weekly transactions. Tesco says its scan as you shop service has “proved increasingly popular”.
Rupal Karia, The Commercial Sector Managing Director at Fujitsu UK and Ireland, has said he believes the traditional grocery checkout experience is “archaic” and customers continue to use it because currently there “is nothing better”.
Barclaycard is another innovator. One that has been trialling its own solution named ‘Grab & Go’. This is available for employees in its staff canteens, and claims the technology has significantly sped up the shopping process. Barclaycard claims the average time from when customers made a decision to buy an item through to completing the transaction and walking away has been reduced from five and a half minutes to 32 seconds. WOW, what a difference, some would have negative things to say about this but let’s look how has it affected the service, what have they lost? NOTHING. They still sell the same things but customers can speed through and get on with their day. In many cases they will see increases because there isn’t a reason for customers to abandon using the onsite facilities when the experience only lasts 32 seconds.
There are always naysayers or people that cannot see the overall vision.
“A couple of very senior employees have told me they are worried a shopper can come in and spend 90 minutes doing a a £200 trolley shop and have zero interaction with a member of staff. A lot of retailers are mindful of the fact that engagement with other human beings can lead to greater loyalty and higher spend.”Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director at Retail Marketing Firm – TCC Global
The trick is working out how staff can be redeployed to build a rapport with customers and even upsell to them.
The [Quick Check] service plays an integral role for many of our customers, as well as enabling us to reallocate resource to customer service and product availabilityMatt Clifton, Head of Customer Experience at Waitrose
Whatever your take on the situation or how you view innovation and being a forward thinker, the main thing that is apparant is that times are changing. Like these larger retailers you need to change with it or risk becoming irrelevant or behind your competitors.
The future of shopping in-store will always be there but the future is bound to include a variety of solutions that are different, bespoke to the retailer, and offer a different experience for the customer.
Karia from Fujitsu said that:
It is the next generation that will be really interesting,” concludes Karia. “The next version and the one after that – which will bring the price point down as more people adopt it – will be where it gets really interesting for the mass market.”
The future of the highstreet/retail isn’t dead, it just needs to be reinvented!
Get in touch if you want to discuss how we can help with your business and solutions to keep you relevant and offering something different for your customers.