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Nine in ten shoppers think the High Street will die without change

Nine in ten shoppers think the High Street will die without change
Tuesday July 23 2013

An overwhelming majority of UK consumers believe that the high street must make drastic changes in order to survive in the face of severe online competition.

This is according to research by Manhattan Associates, which questioned 1,000 people about their offline and online shopping preferences.

Whilst online only retailers hold the upper hand when it comes to choice and often price, there are multiple avenues that high street retailers can take in order to survive and grow.

The survey revealed an astounding 77 per cent of shoppers admitting to buying products online after viewing them on the high street first. This threatens to turn many high street stores into mere showrooms where consumers typically find out what they need to know about a product in store, only to then buy the same product online and most often from a competing retailer offering the same item at a lower price.

Bricks and mortar retailers can however use their strengths in customer service, speed and proximity to take on the pure online players.

A personal approach and in-store support from shop assistants are service attributes that already highly valued. Many consumers see shop assistants as adding value in stock checking (37 per cent) and offering personal advice (28 per cent). Retailers though need to focus more attention on enhancing the role of the high street shop assistant so that they are seen to be adding value throughout a consumer’s in-store experience. In-store assistants also need to have a good understanding of the broader supply chain and have visibility of inventory across the store and supply chain network so they can secure, save or increase a sale.

High street stores can also achieve faster delivery times than their online counterparts through services such as click-and-collect or ship-from-store. These types of service are gaining in popularity. The survey found that -60 per cent of shoppers would be more likely to buy from a retailer offering a click-and-collect service than from one without such an offering. This type of service combines the convenience of Amazon with the speed of the high street, often within 90 minutes of an order being taken. But, in order to succeed in deploying express click and collect or ship from store services using store stock for online sales, new disciplines and capabilities are required in the supply chain and in-store.

“Making changes to the back-end processes to meet changing customer demands will allow the high street to both survive and thrive,” said Craig Sears-Black, UK managing director, Manhattan Associates. “An agile, sophisticated and efficient supply chain is a crucial part of facilitating the dynamic changes that will allow the high street to leverage their most important assets once more.”