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Retailers have been hearing the same news for years – the struggling high street is on its way out, online shopping is the future and you’d better all get used it.
The proof for such predictions is seemingly everywhere. Never mind the sheer number of closures occurring in your local shopping centre, the stats and figures speak for themselves.
According to the Telegraph, online store ASOS experienced sales growth of more than 25 per cent during 2016’s Christmas, whilst high street footfall fell by six per cent over the same period.
Amazon’s retail experiments
But despite the gloomy overall picture for the high street that’s currently being painted by the media, there’s one glimmering, shiny spot on the horizon. And it’s all thanks to Amazon.
Since 2015, when the giant of online retail opened its first physical store (a bookshop in their hometown of Seattle), they’ve been responsible for more and more bricks-and-mortar experiments. Most recently, it’s their concept Amazon Go grocery stores that have been hitting headlines and grabbing the attention of industry leaders. Set to revolutionise the way people shop (according to some anyway), it’s a checkout-free store that lets customers pay via app.
A winning future combination
These new business ventures from Amazon are a clear sign that the future of retail isn’t an all-out war between e-commerce and the physical high street (as we’ve been led to believe for so long), but rather, a blending of the two.
Whilst launching online still has obvious advantages for young startups with low funds, more established companies would be wise to follow Amazon’s lead. Whatever your budget, you can and should develop a bricks-and-mortar shop that offers all the traditional advantages of high street retail with a few tech-based bells and whistles.
If you’re still feeling a bit unsure about making such a big move, here are a few top tips for getting a physical shop off to a successful start that might just make up your mind. Take a look.
#1: get the right location
For Amazon’s first ever physical store they picked a location with meaning (their hometown) and with practical benefits (Seattle’s big and filled with potential customers) – you need to take the same approach when opening your own high street headquarters.
Of course, you also need to think about your budget. The quickest way to find a shop for rent that ticks all the boxes is using an online database. Most will let you narrow down options and research possible locations according to affordability.
#2: use tech to boost customer experience
You could have the most up-to-date AI software available and the finest equipment money can buy, but if it doesn’t directly and immediately benefit your customers, then they won’t give two hoots about it.
Focus on bringing technology into your new high street store that will improve and streamline customer experiences, like a click-and-collect service or app-based mobile payments.
#3: spread the word with marketing
As a massive global brand, Amazon didn’t have to work particularly hard to draw attention to its retail store openings and bricks-and-mortar experiments – but you will. You need to let everyone know exactly what they stand to gain from closing their browser and popping into your store.
A comprehensive marketing strategy, involving PR events within the local community and digital marketing basics like PPC, is essential. If you don’t have the expertise or hours to execute it, then look at hiring freelancers or an external agency to take care of it for you.
What do you think – does Amazon’s latest retail venture give you hope for the new tech-savvy high street? Or are you sticking to the internet? Leave a comment and let us know.
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