With so much talk in the news regarding high street retail, it can be easy to succumb to the ‘doom and gloom’ outlook presented – even from Cybertill’s own research. However in the last couple of months, there have been signs of retail growth. So just what is the future of High Street retail, it’s a difficult question to answer without having a crystal ball, right? Not necessarily, as this blog shows there have been some clear indicators which point towards the emerging or should I say converging future of retail.

We have all heard about the ‘casualties’ of the high street in recent times, with increasing numbers of the UK’s high street shops closing down. This has largely been caused by a tougher economic climate, higher operating costs, and a more ‘value’ orientated population. But the high street is still the preferred shopping ‘channel’ for now, with just 10% of sales online.

In comparison, the UK’s online retail market is on the rise year on year, growing 16% in May Year on Year. As online retailers benefit from lower operating costs and we become more tech savvy, there has been an increase in online shopping, mobile shopping and show-rooming, with online sales increasingly ‘dipping’ into the high streets sales. However it is not all roses for online retailers as they face a different set of challenges. The problems faced by online retailers are largely due to shopper apprehensiveness, as people still like to touch and feel products, interact with staff, and feel secure in their payment; this leads to a high basket abandonment rate, it was as high as 58% in 2012.

We are now seeing a convergence between the once two separate retail channels, with high street retailers lowering operating costs by reducing their physical store presence or scaling back growth plans, as Marks and Spencer announced recently. This is being complemented by online retailers, who are branching out into high street stores to help build brand trust and increase product delivery options with ‘click and collect’.

This helps highlight the fact that the future of retail is multi-channel. Successful retailers will need to have a single view of customers, inventory and orders. The channel is for the customer to decide. Retailers looking to achieve this ‘nirvana’ can look to cloud technology as this gives retailers that single view and real time data across their business. This enables their channels to flex and help fulfil their customers’ orders and achieve that multi-channel objective.


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