The future of retail is bright, and online

The future of the British high street has been a topic of conversation for some time now. The increase in digital platforms and the rise in e-commerce is one of the biggest influences.

Retail in the UK: An ever changing market

Every day you walk down the street there are more closing down sales and more failing retailers; but does that mean it is the end of the road for our traditional retail experience?

Retail can be split into three main sectors; luxury, high street and e-commerce, and each of these react differently to the trends in an ever changing market.

Luxury retail is more than just a product

Luxury retailers such as Gucci and Versace continue to thrive by offering an in-store, experiential style of marketing. Before such an expensive investment is made, customers need to buy into the whole experience of the product, as well as the service that comes with it. If the customer service received is of the highest quality and the shop itself is in immaculate condition, you’re on the right track.

The idea behind this ‘money-can’t-buy’ experience aids justification to the inflated price tags attached to the products. Without this superior service and the indulgent surroundings, the luxury market is not the unique experience it promises. With this in mind, despite the more traditional high street retailers suffering in the current market, the luxury retailers can hone in on the experience surrounding the purchase and will hold their own in the current climate.

Reduction of stores on the high street

So how does this differ with more traditional high street retailers? The idea of purchasing everyday items and lower-priced products from the comfort of your own home appeals to the modern-day customer. An increasing number of retailers are scaling down on the number and size of their stores in order to focus their attention towards online sales. Whilst popular high streets such as Oxford Street might not be feeling the pinch as much as smaller local high streets, the pressure is still rife.

Many retailers are finding that customers are visiting the stores to understand quality and fit of a product, but are then going home and purchasing online using customer-retention ploys such as discount codes and loyalty schemes. For marketers specialising in customer engagement and loyalty schemes, their skills and experience are proving lucrative in this market. Marketing to the traditional high street needs to be focused on standing out from the crowd and giving customers that little bit extra.

The future appears to be online

E-commerce is the new age of retailing. Modern-day fashion retailers, such as PrettyLittleThing and Boohoo, started a trend of opening businesses solely online and have been flourishing ever since. These e-commerce companies target their audience using advertising on social media and utilising online influencers, allowing them to amass a huge following in a relatively short space of time. Generation Y are heavily influenced by the idea of an “instagramable” life. E-commerce retailers benefit from attracting their customers through the same methods that the traditional retailers use, but do not have the same overheads. Through this, the e-commerce businesses become more financially stable, can spend more on their marketing and can plan better for the future.

The idea of retail being in trouble is a false concept. If anything, now is the right time to join a retailer as they look to adapt to the market and to technology. It is an opportunity for marketers to be more creative in order to influence customers. Digital is rapidly changing the lives of everyone and the best thing any business can do is to keep up with these changes or become a front runner by being that one step ahead. Embracing new ideas such as Artificial Intelligence will help brands stand out from the crowd. Although luxury may be safe, the more traditional retailers will need to re-strategise and evolve in order to compete with the new e-commerce based stores.

The future of retail is bright, but only for those investing in digital.

Emma Greaves's picture
Senior Manager | Marketing, Communications & Sales Recruitment


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