Editor's Comment

Pray for sunshine – or start using technology

A burst of sunshine and hot weather across Northern Europe in June and early July saw a much-needed boost to footfall – and paddling pool and beer sales – but it’s a blip. Figures from BRC and Gfk both point to consumer confidence being at an all-time low and as the weather slides into ‘holiday’ mode (ie not very nice) things are likely to get worse.

While there is nothing that retailers can do about Brexit and falling wages directly, there is much they can do to try and reverse the decline – using technology.

It is a long running argument, but one that is now imperative. As has been written about across Internet Retailing in the past months, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality (AR, VR and MR) along with artificial intelligence (AI) are all likely contenders to make in store shopping more attractive. But these are long term solutions – well the first three are, AI is starting to make in-roads into marketing as I type – what the high street needs now are immediate fixes.

As our Guest Opinion this week points out, retailers face an up-hill battle. ‘generation now’ is very different to previous shoppers. Around 40% of 18-34 year olds would happily buy online; 77% of them already use self-serve checkouts when they do venture into stores, because they are quicker and more efficient.

Catering to this is key – but what can you do? The simplest approach – and that can be implemented quickly is simply to make online and in-store arms of the business work together more closely. Rather than competing with each other (come on, we all know you do!) the common goal should be to sell more stuff through both channels and use all that each offers to make that happen.

Click and collect is still popular – how can you make that better? You can arm staff with iPads to help expedite the in-store process – what else can that do? Your ecommerce sites reach people where ever they are, what ever they are doing – how can you leverage that to bring people in-store?

Conversely, for those that do go to stores, how can you make that experience better using online? Ordering stuff there and then via your website if it’s out of stock; getting goods bought in store delivered by the time they get home; letting users search stores on their phones much like they’d search your site; blur the line between the store and the device.

All these things can help to create a more digital experience in store and make the stores you have more a part of the digital world that shoppers seem to increasingly prefer.

Or you can pray for sunshine.

The Tamebay Ecommerce Cup
The Tamebay Ecommerce Cup 2017 will be held on September 7 and five-a-side teams are now being invited to sign up. The tournament, now in its fifth year, is moving to a new venue in Shepherd’s Bush and promises FA refs and a comfy new players’ lounge complete with screens to keep tabs on competitors’ matches.

“We had a total of 26 teams enter last year, and it was great to have both suppliers and retailers competing, with Deliveroo taking the top spot and runners up Uber narrowly missing out,” says Mark Pigou, founder of InternetRetailing Media. “This year promises to be just as competitive.” To enter a team of up to 10 people (five players and five subs), sign up here.

Sponsorship opportunities are limited to three companies: email Joey Evans (joe.evans@tamebay.com) for more.

Webinars
Find out more about upcoming InternetRetailing webinars and register for free on the InternetRetailing webinar page. You can also catch up with past webinars on the page: recent sessions have come from IBM Watson on using AI to improve the customer experience, and from SmartFocus and The Entertainer on using social to reach digital customers.

Chloe Rigby is away

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