The Concious Consumer
As our lifestyles and shopping habits become increasingly reliant on digital technology, the British High Street, as we know it, is changing.
It is easy to perceive technology as the “bad guy” in High Street retail. With online shopping, anything you could possibly need or want is only a click away, drawing many consumers into the online world, and out of shops, with the temptation of convenience.
Dotted around High Streets across Britain, empty shopfront windows reflect the very real struggles that retailers are facing in the digital age. Something needs to change to save our High Streets and, at Buy-From Britain, we are working hard to make that change.
Launched to support national, international and independent retail businesses, Buy-From Britain champions High Street stores as valuable community hubs which support local economies.
We believe that one way in which retailers can adjust to the digital age of shopping, is to recognise that technology is not necessarily a threat. Actually, when embraced, it can be a powerful tool to enhance the in-store shopping experience. Society’s reliance on technology may pose some issues for independent retailers, but they can also provide the solutions.
To progress in the reality industry, it is vital to understand what today’s consumer really wants. The ways in which people shop is changing, and retailers need to move with the changes to continue to grow.
There are now particular technologies within shops which consumers will generally expect as a minimum such as contactless payment devices. Introducing the speed and efficiency of one-tap payments into shops is an easy approach to stand out among online competition. Offering convenience alongside the physical, social aspect of visiting a store in person, this small change could make a big difference to the customer experience.
Technology is helping consumers to become more savvy as they can give and receive recommendations publicly over social media. Making a store ‘Instagrammable’ and really paying attention to the décor of your store is more important now than ever before. If your shop has a distinctive style which photographs well, it will likely be shared on social media. With the free advertising of consumers’ posts, others will then be tempted to find and visit your business, creating a wave of online influence.
Additionally, free WiFi, can be very effective at bringing customers in. At little expense to you as retailers, offering WiFi is a subtle way to get noticed by customers nearby who are searching for free internet connections. And, by helping visitors to connect online, you can encourage more people to share their thoughts on your store on social media.
Depending on your budget, the scope for utilising technology within stores is limitless. Moving beyond the standard digital services offered by stores around the country, as well as your presence on social media, you can further improve your stores’ experience by introducing augmented reality. IKEA is leading the way in retail-focused augmented reality with their IKEA Place. Through an app, they allow customers to see how IKEA furniture would look in their own homes, making the physical experience of shopping unbelievably straightforward.
Whatever your products or services, offering a virtual “try before you buy” service will appeal to the convenience-seeking, tech-savvy consumer of today.
If you continue to fear the impact of technology on your retail business, you are at risk of falling behind in today’s industry. With many consumers searching online for the right shop for them, you, as retailers, can use technology to let them know that the shop they are looking for is, in fact, you.
The High Street is changing; by understanding today’s consumer and embracing technology, we can help the retail industry to grow, develop and thrive in our digitally-connected world.
For more advice on how to stand out in retail and use technology to develop your business, get in touch with Buy-From Britain here.