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Ecommerce has 'a part to play in revitalising the UK's high streets'

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Ecommerce has an important part to play in the task of revitalising the UK's high streets, says leading online retailer Play.com.

Adam Stewart, marketing director at Play.com , was speaking in the light of today’s news that the Government is supporting the establishment of town teams in order to help high streets fight back against threats from both out-of-town shopping and online sales.

Introducing the Government’s response to Mary Portas’ recommendations for the future of high streets, housing and planning minister Grant Shapps said today that he was introducing a range of measures “designed to help local people turn their high streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again.”

Shapps added: "Mary Portas's review made crystal clear the stark challenge our high streets face. With Internet shopping and out-of-town centres here to stay, they must offer something new if they are to entice visitors back.”

But, says Stewart, of Rakuten-owned Play.com, the Portas report had nothing to say about the part ecommerce can play in that revitalisation.

Stewart said: “It’s important to note that the e-commerce sector, rather than cannibalising the high street, can be integral to revitalising it, encouraging offline sales, as well as customer loyalty. For example, by offering a voucher via mobile to redeem at the nearest store using location-based services.”

Stewart argues that multichannel shopping - which includes the high street - is key to meeting the needs of modern consumers. “On this changing high street, implementation of a well thought-out multichannel platform will lead to a rise in sales, as well as new customers, increased brand loyalty and a better customer experience,” he said.

Citing the example of Japanese brewery Yonayona, he said that the company succeeded in boosting its offline sales when customers who had seen its goods online asked supermarkets to stock them in their stores.

“The situation facing retailers today is infinitely more complex than we are at times led to believe; the shopping experience is changing and retailers need to address how the high street can work alongside digital shopping channels like mobile, online and social, and profit as a result," said Stewart.

The Portas-Plus response unveiled by the Government today includes a £10m High Street Innovation Fund, a £1m Future High Streets X-Fund, a National Markets Day, and a £0.5m Business Improvement District fund.
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