Mary Portas’ High Street Review describes an admirable vision of what the British High Street might become and it acknowledges that a large reason, among many, for the decline of the High Street is changes in the way that consumers shop.
However, I am disappointed that it does little to acknowledge the role that converged multi-channel commerce will play in the future of the High Street, the changing role of the store in the customer journey and in particular the importance of providing a High Street that supports todays always-connected shopper.
21st-century shoppers are constantly connected whether at home, at work or during their travels via mobile devices. They are highly-informed and expect their shopping experience to be flawless across any channel. They also expect to be able to use any channel in any way that they wish. This means that previously distinct channels are rapidly converging and retailers of all sizes need to find new ways to service the cross-channel consumer as cost effectively as possible.
The reality is that the High Street is now just one component of the shopping journey that may or may not be entirely ignored or used at any stage for any purpose by consumers. It may be a point of research, a point of validation, a point of collection, a point of sale or a point from which home delivery is ordered. It may be all of these or none of them in any shopping journey.
The High Street still has an important role to play, but if it is to revive it needs to adapt, take its place in the multi-channel mix and become part of the highly-connected environment in which today’s shoppers live.
Restoring the High Street to its former glory, without accommodating the changing habits of the modern consumer, is a project destined to fail unless stakeholders in the High Street are also compelled to facilitate the use of 21st-century technology by including fixed and wireless broadband provisions, and low-cost access for smaller retailers to key selling, marketing and merchandising technologies.
Authored by Eric Abensur, CEO