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EDITORIAL Wiping the slate clean on the High Street

Apart from every week when I sit poised to write this editorial, it is good to be faced with a blank sheet of paper. A clean slate. Back to the drawing board. And this is precisely the situation that online Fashion newbie The Cherry Moon finds itself in.

Having created a lovely and successful web business, it is joining a small but growing throng of etailers looking to stamp their mark on the High Street. The Cherry Moon sees it as an opportunity to engage shoppers in a realm that they still like, but also to use technology to bring the best of what they do online to the store.

It has the makings of being an object lesson in what modern retail should be like.

The Cherry Moon is looking to use beacon technology to do away with scanners, tills, queues and all the things that make shopping in-store so rubbish. The retailer is also looking to create an app that will not only be a transactional portal into its site, but will also make it possible to see what is available for collection in the store.

It truly offers some joined-up thinking on what digital and physical retail should be used for together.

It also plays into the growing knowledge that, despite the retail apocalypse headlines, there is a hunger among shoppers to use shops. They just want to do it differently to how they do it now.

This week there is yet more research that voices the views of shoppers on High Street stores and once again they are saying they like going to stores. The Makingsignals research suggests that 85% of people still prefer to physically purchase products in store, despite the convenience offered by online and mobile shopping.

Although the rapid growth of e-commerce has significantly reduced footfall to the high street, the research also found that three-quarters of customers would still prefer to make a purchase in a store, with 82% of these saying this is because they prefer to receive the product as soon as they’ve purchased it.

The study – like many before it so far in 2019 – again points to how stores need to embrace digital and vice versa… you can’t have one without the other, to paraphrase Frank Sinatra.

The Cherry Moon – like Amazon and others who are popping up in the real world to build on their online successes – is right to make this move. It has a great proposition and has the foresight to look at how the technology available today can be used to improve the High Street experience.

While this is all too late for the likes of House of Fraser and probably too late for Debenhams, this is what will save the stores and the High Streets. Perhaps Mike Ashley will, once he gets his mitts on Debenhams as well, start to look at how to use these brands and their retail spaces in new ways. Until then. It will be the likes of these web pioneers that will be what makes the town centre vibrant again.

In fact, as I have said before – when faced with the blank sheet of paper – perhaps the only thing wrong with the High Street is that it and the brands that currently use it, are just out of date. They aren’t what the kids want. Sure, the kids take their cues from the web, but it seems that take those cues out into the real world, sprinkle them with technology, and things start to look a bit better than they did.

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