High Street shopping over the past decade has seen a sharp decline in the number of customers who do their shopping in person. Some retail locations who thrived for half a century or more are either fading away or already have closed their doors due to the rise in eCommerce. None of this is news to anyone who has followed the transformation of from traditional shopping methods to online shopping. What you may not be aware of is how some retail locations have adapted to the growth in online shopping and have managed to thrive in the face of the massive increase in online shopping.
Branding is the Key to Keeping Stores Open
How have some stores managed to defy the trend of failing retail locations? The answer is simple; the stores have cultivated a strong brand which both individuals and the community. These stores have a clear identity which they express in their branding. Some have become speciality stores where they focus on selling niche or hard to find products, focusing on products that have a loyal social media following.
In Person Experience
Some shops have encouraged their customers to come in and try out products. Trying out something you want to buy, to this point, isn't something which can be done online. Many shops are leveraging their online store offering to purchase something online and be able to pick it up from a retail location. The duality of an online and in-store experience means that when the customer goes into the store, there is a possibility of another purchase being made. The stores who are pushing this trend are following the examples of Ikea and Apple, who were at the forefront of branding that takes advantage of both retail and online experiences.
Being able to hold something in your hands and try it out before making a purchase is one of the main advantages retail still holds over eCommerce. There is also the instantaneous gratification of purchasing something and not having to wait for it to be shipped to you. Some customers have used a shop's online store and looked at a product online and then made the trip to the brick and mortar location to purchase it. The future of High Street may indeed depend on having both a strong brick and mortar location along with a strong online presence.
Being a Community Shop
High Street shops that are doing well across the U.K. look for ways to fit into the community. Restaurants and cafes have moved into storefronts of stores that were considered on the rise fifteen years ago. In places like York bicycle shops, pubs, and bakery's have enhanced the community and managed to survive the initial wave of Highstreet shops closing. These stores, although small, have made themselves part of the community by offering goods and services that are relevant to their surroundings; they also have strong branding and an online presence.
It is clear that consumer's High Street shopping habits continue to change with the dominance of eCommerce. Shops will provide hybrid in-store, and online experiences and both consumer and retailer may benefit.
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