From Bricks to Clicks and Back Again in Retail

Over the last decade we’ve been peppered with headlines about the decline of High Street retail and the rise of online consumerism.

Yet, over the last year or two physical retailers have been enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with a growing crowd of e-tailers making the move back to the High Street.

Online first was a cost-effective stepping stone to the High Street for businesses and a good way to test the market’s appetite.

However, the trend is accelerating and hugely successful digital only businesses like Amazon, Vistaprint, and Sezane have made the move to invest in bricks.

Amazon are usually a good indication of how the landscape might be changing, and moving quickly with change is critical to survival in retail.

It’s an exciting time to see how digital first brands might reshape the high street.

After all, online sales still only account for around 12% of all retail according to Retail Economics 2017. It means it’s a bit early to be writing eulogies for High Street stores.

Property consultancy Colliers recently reported in The Telegraph that online sales are showing signs of slowing down. That coupled with the level of hacks, uncertainty over GDPR, and competition with the major retailers may be influencing businesses to return to bricks and mortar.

It might just be that shoppers miss the personal experience of stores, they want to try a product before they buy, or they find online purchasing channels difficult.

Whatever it is, for retailers to capitalise in 2018 they need to tie together these separate customer journeys across online and physical experiences.

It all comes back to data and how businesses are utilising theirs in 2018. Are you capturing it, connecting it and then actioning it?

How are you communicating online consumer engagement with visiting a store and vice versa?

We continued to see further ground gained from online sales during Black Friday weekend in terms of market share, but the key takeaway for me was the surge in click and collects.

It’s an example of how consumers are prepared to browse for the best deals, or start their research online and then finish in-store.

Last year Deloitte highlighted this, suggesting that online engagement and influence plays a role in 38% of sales in stores, and that consumers who use a device during their shopping journey are 40% more likely to convert to a sale.

Online retail will continue to grow but it’s more than likely the bigger purchasing decisions and higher conversions will still be made in person.

Which is why technology needs to used to provide a connection between digital, physical and app shopping, so that the sale process is ongoing.

However many steps in the purchasing journey, retailers that move ahead in 2018 will be those that create an experience that works in tandem across digital and physical channels seamlessly.

To do that businesses are going to need to make the right hires to orchestrate these changes.

Which roles will be critical in helping e-tailers establish themselves on the High Street?