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London’s main ‘i-Street’ gears up for an m-Christmas

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Shoppers are in for a treat this Christmas, as retailers invest in technology to improve the in-store and online experience. Research conducted by Virgin Media Business, which looked at what technologies are being used by the flagship stores in Oxford Street, has uncovered a wealth of innovation that will delight customers this Christmas.

To reduce the queues, Niketown has attendants taking payments on mobile devices and 23% of the flagship stores are offering in-store ‘order online’ touch screen terminals for store collection or delivery. To further improve the customer experience, Debenhams is offering a “free coffee Friday” via social networking site Four Square and John Lewis has just announced plans to offer free wi-fi to shoppers in all its department stores nationwide by Christmas.

Online, the flagship stores are making huge strides to attract and retain shoppers. Many are moving beyond traditional e-commerce solutions and are capitalising on the growing trend towards m-commerce – whereby shoppers can do their online transactions on a mobile device. Our research showed that 61% of the flagship stores in Oxford Street have a m-commerce offering and 46% have an app. With the BRC and Google saying that mobile searches for retail offerings have grown 168% year-on-year, this is set to be a huge opportunity.

Phil Stewart, director, customer service, Virgin Media Business explains: “Christmas is one of the most profitable seasons for retailers. Last year’s online Christmas sales hit £2.8 billion, up 44% from the year before. And with one pound in every ten now being spent online, it’s likely this year will be even more. But it’s a multi-channel approach that will hone and improve the customer experience and ultimately make a retailer successful.

“New high bandwidth connectivity options for UK retailers are enabling the use of more and more innovative technology solutions to improve the shoppers experience and provide that essential USP to attract customers in a highly competitive market. By making the right technology decisions, both in store and online, both retailers and consumers stand to get the benefits from this new digital era. For me, I’ll be looking forward to browsing and ordering my friends presents from the comfort of my sofa, or maybe on the move on my smartphone – rather than facing the crowds this Christmas.”

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