The UK high street has been a long-standing staple of our daily lives. Peter Blackburn, international commercial director at InPost explains that while it remains integral to local communities up and down the country, there’s no denying that its purpose, and the way we all use our high streets, is changing.
This has been exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis, and is reflected in research by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) which found that UK consumers had cut back on their spending in February. High streets are eager to recover post-pandemic, but shoppers are making tough decisions about their outgoings.
Footfall figures are moving in the right direction though — MRI’s recent Springboard figures showed a 13% increase in high street footfall year on year in mid-February. But more needs to be done if we are to reach pre-pandemic levels.
What’s clear however, is that the status quo won’t work. Consumers’ lifestyles and shopping behaviours have irrevocably changed, and so our high streets have reached a reappraisal moment. There is a major opportunity to deliver an improved customer experience, but those high streets that succeed will recognise the potential for out of home (OOH) delivery options such as PUDO and lockers, as part of their winning mix.
Parcel convenience: the cornerstone to shopper happiness
We know from experience that people have zero tolerance for friction – they need (and even demand) convenience, and are keen for quick services in every aspect of their lives – even when it comes to shopping. In fact, this is supported by a recent report by PwC which found that never has the need for convenience and low cost been higher, with 41% of customers willing to pay more for a product if they can purchase them more quickly and conveniently.
The good news is that with technology advancing at breakneck pace, options that turbocharge experience and bridge the gap between online and high-street shopping exist. Enter out-of-home (OOH) delivery solutions like parcel lockers and PUDO points.
Options such as parcel lockers play a role in expanding the breadth of parcel and postal services that are available in local areas up and down the country. At a time when Brits are increasingly embracing the hybrid lifestyle, they make it more simple than ever for people to collect, send or return packages on their own time.
And let’s not forget the other benefit for consumers. That thanks to most parcel lockers being available 24/7 it means that people no longer need to waste time hanging around in queues or being limited to shop opening and closing times. What’s not to love?
Supporting local communities and businesses
Aside from injecting convenience into consumers’ lives, however, lockers can also play a part in helping to boost local economies across the country.
How? It’s simple… They can encourage new and different types of customers to nearby shops.
This is showcased through a recent survey of InPost customers using lockers at Lidl stores, which found that 54% of customers using an InPost Locker outside a Lidl supermarket went on to make a purchase in store. Meanwhile, nearly half of those spent over £20, and said that using the locker was the main reason for spending this money. And let’s not forget that two-thirds of customers were so happy with the simplicity and convenience of the service that they became repeat users.*
This suggests that innovative out-of-home solutions can play a role in driving footfall to our local high streets.
This will be vital to merging community and convenience and helping to reinvent our local high streets as a one stop shop for everything from essential amenities through to leisure and entertainment. A must if we are to support the local economy of our towns in the year ahead.
*Based on a survey of 2,116 InPost users (June-September 2022)
Peter Blackburn, international commercial director at InPost