Profits at Top Shop have plummeted by 79% and New Look as taken a huge hit: as Brexit uncertainty continues and shopping habits change, the High Street’s decline is increasing – and only mobile can save it, experts warn.
A recent Capgemini survey found that most consumers view visiting stores as a chore, so much so that one-third of respondents say their time is better spent at home washing the dishes. This attitude, plus a highly competitive retail market, is rapidly dragging the high street down.
According to Martyn Barnett, MD at RMG Networks: “First New Look and now Topshop, some of the UK biggest retailers are continuing to announce tumbling sales. Whilst New Look openly recognises that the retail environment is now more competitive than ever, there is more that they, and other UK retailers, can do to keep shoppers engaged on the high street. Keeping consumers in store and buying is one of the biggest challenges retailers face.”
With consumers increasingly relying on mobile to shop and other immersive smart retail solutions, the only way forward for retailers is to treat customers in the same way whether they are mobile or on the high-street.
For example, by integrating dynamic visual signs in store that are directly linked to their e-commerce sites creating integrated retail touchpoints with engaging data-informed tailored customer promotions and multiple opportunities to purchase. Promotions where consumers can simply tap their phone against displays, after seeing something they want to purchase, and receive an exclusive offer because they are in store can provide an instantaneous incentive to buy right there and then – negating the need to head to eBay searching for a cheaper alternative.
“The whole experience of shopping needs to be re-shaped and given back its appeal and magic and this can only be done by taking a holistic approach across screens, social, web and instore and creating interaction with the customer along every point of the journey, but directing them ultimately to an added value instore experience,” says Barnett.
He contines: “Retailers need to fight against massive bulk buyers and bulk sellers who are undercutting brands that invest significantly in their high-street stores. They need to captivate people and create engaging retail experiences, high-street stores still prove a great opportunity to do this. Mobile, visual technology, IoT, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and seamless integration of online, offline through those visual, digital and mobile channels, will be the key for them to beating some of these challenges.”
Another tool that can help High Street shops improve what they do is artificial intelligence (AI). Pegasystems has launched Pega® Retail Advisor, a new, tablet-ready application that gives retail associates AI-powered guidance to hyper-personalize the in-store experience for each customer.
By analyzing past interactions to understand context, Pega Retail Advisor empowers every agent to give smarter, more relevant recommendations as they engage shoulder-to-shoulder with customers anywhere in the store. Using their mobile device, retail associates can also complete any sales or service task – from checking inventory to placing an order – normally done at fixed terminals. Now retailers can redefine their in-store experience around the customer – not the agent – to create more effective associates, more profitable locations, and more satisfied customers.
“Brick and mortar stores continue to search for an identity as the retail world rapidly changes around them,” says Tom Libretto, CMO, Pegasystems. “With Pega Retail Advisor, stores can retake the one thing websites and apps can’t fully replicate – a face-to-face connection – and make it a powerful differentiator. Now every sales consultant can become their brand’s best consultant, providing a highly personalized experience that repeatedly brings customers back through the doors.”