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EDITORIAL The technology to save the High Street is right here, right now

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The UK government has, in between trying to tear itself apart over Brexit, appointed a panel of ‘experts’ to diagnose the problems with High Street retail and, eventually, recommend what needs to be done. Hoorah!

While there is every chance that the panel will be more Burke and Hare attending to a corpse, rather than a life saving Holby City style last minute life saving denouement, is it going to tell us anything we don’t already know?

Last time the government intervened – under David Cameron, remember him? – was when there were fears as to what might happen to footfall in real shops as a result of commerce.

Back then, when it wasn’t too late to act – we were treated to the Portas Review – a missive that totally missed the coming storm of ecommerce’s true impact on High Street retailing, instead telling us to go and check out the indie shops as they have some nice stuff in them. That worked. 

I could tell the latest Quango just what it should find without them having to look. Hip. And I can tell them what needs to be done. Hip. And how to solve the problem. Hoorah!

Retail is theatre and retail is a destination. It is also, increasingly, something that is done around other activities. High Street retail is an adjunct to and a part of ecommerce – and vice versa. 

This we all know.

What retail needs is to be able to deliver on this. It needs to be overhauled to be fast, convenient, fun, as good as – if not better than – online. And it needs to do this fast.

Amazon gets this. It even opened stores for Prime Day and it has spent many millions of dollars and many man-hours or work creating the Go stores.

But the technology is already there to bring all this to life in pretty much any store. A mere trawl through InternetRetailing’s inbox in a week finds five technology solutions that could be put to use right now, without breaking the bank, to deliver the speed, convenience and fun needed.

We don’t need a committee. We don’t need to talk about it. We need to just do it – and there are myriad technology companies out there from little to large all of whom are desperate to make this happen.

So come on, retail committee, stop jabbering and act.

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