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Not learning from experience

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The latest study from Adyen into how retailers and consumers each view shopping online and in the real world makes for what a more flowery writer than I might refer to as an interesting juxtaposition.

95% of UK shoppers shop online, 60% of them in apps, yet only 21% of retailers still don’t offer the actual ability to buy anything either online or in-app.

While that is odd in itself, what cracks me up when I read the report is that retailers themselves see apps and their online offering as not their best user experience – with only 1.2% of large retailers thinking that their app offers anything of value to their customers.

So, let me get this straight: 1% of large retailers think their app is good and 99% therefore think their app is rubbish (and that is out of the fifth of retailers that offer a transactional app)?

This is mental! And I have to say I am shocked. It is 2017, not 2007 (although, come the post-election summer it may well feel like 1817). The iPhone and the app economy has been with us for a decade. 10 years. We are nearly a fifth of the way through the 21st Century. E-commerce is a mature business model. M-commerce is growing at such a rate that it will overtake e-commerce in the next few years. My mum buys things on her phone.

Yet for all the hype, discussion, research and – most pertinent of all – customer usage around mobile, barely anyone has bothered to offer shoppers a good experience through this channel.

OK, I get that it is expensive and times are tough, but I fear that maybe those in retail are mis-directing the investment they do have under a misguided notion that this online and mobile stuff will go away.

The same Adyen report finds that large retailers believe that their best experience comes in store. They actually think the store is the premium channel.

They are wrong.

Consumers are increasingly abandoning the high street as we have seen over countless quarters – alright there was a bit of a pick up over Easter, but believe me, it was a blip; the high street as we know it is dead – and heading online. They are heading online because the experience in stores – queues, poorly informed staff, lack of stock, crowds, cost of parking, time and so on – is rubbish.

Look at it this way: consumers are flocking to shop online even though the experience there isn’t as good as it could be. The reason? It is still better than going to a store.

Continued investment in stores – or at least keeping them in the same shape they have been in for the past 50 years – is a waste of time. Investing in them to make them more digital, more event-led, more special and compelling would work, but that sort of investment needs to run alongside an investment in making the digital side of things as good as they can be.

The likes of Amazon and eBay – and, when they aren’t catching fire, ASOS and other pureplay onliners – are cleaning up and they are taking your business because they offer the right goods, at the right price, at the right time – and in an easy to use, pleasant, simple, clean experience (with simple ways to pay). This is what you people with stores are up against. You can make your shop as pretty as you like, without the choice and interlinking with digital it will just be another sweatbox with a queue to avoid.

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