UK retailers have been issued with a stark warning: major players in the UK retail industry are sleepwalking into a retail apocalypse.
So says analyst Natalie Berg, founder of NBK Retail: “The UK retail sector is facing unprecedented levels of change,” she says. “The convergence of physical and digital retail is accelerating, which will lead to more high street closures and require a complete reinvention of bricks and mortar retailing. The store of the future will be less about transactions; instead it must become a hub for both experiences and fulfilment.”
And mobile now plays a pivotal role in retailing, she says. With many retailers now aspiring to a digital-first strategy, mobile has taken centre stage. Not only has it created endless new shopping opportunities, but crucially it’s bridged the gap between physical and digital retail. Today, customers are armed with their own personal shopping companions enabling them access product information, pricing and peer reviews while instore.
Amazon, with its treasure trove of reviews and unrivalled assortment, is the number one destination for product search. For bricks and mortar retailers, this highlights the dual challenge of price transparency and availability. If the product is out of stock or the price isn’t right, then Amazon is in a prime position to gobble up that sale in the form of a mobile transaction.
In an age of ubiquitous connectivity, the consumer is king, she says. The ability to shop while sitting on a train or waiting for the dentist has empowered consumers with a whole new level of convenience and accessibility.
“Gone are the days when price comparisons meant visiting multiple physical locations,” she explains. “And today when shoppers want to learn more about a product, it’s often quicker to consult their phones rather than seek out a store associate.”
With the average person checking their phone 150 times per day, it’s fair to say that mobile phones have simply become an extension of us as consumers.
Going forward, mobile will play a greater role in rewarding loyalty, personalising offers and reducing friction instore, particularly in terms of payments.
“Meanwhile, retailers must prepare for a seemingly permanent shift in consumer values,” she expands. “When it comes to discretionary spending, consumers are increasingly prioritising experiences over material goods, a trend that reinforces the urgency to redefine the retail space. The scale and pace of the changes we are witnessing is unparalleled; there will be no second chances for retailers that fail to adapt.”
NBK Retail marks its launch by publishing the below infographic to highlight the biggest forces in retail in 2018.