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  1. The High Street bites back on showrooming

    The High Street bites back on showrooming


    We’re all guilty of it. Browsing shops or e-commerce sites to check goods we intend to purchase, benchmarking the prices they’re available at, and then using Google by means of price comparison to find the best deal. It’s called ‘Showrooming’ and it’s here to stay.

    Retailer loyalty is on the wane as our continuing recession forces consumers to make purchase decisions more driven by price than service or user-experience. Online shoppers are more and more willing to persevere with a badly designed site, so long as they know the outcome will save them a few quid on a product they would pay slightly more for at Amazon.

    But where do traditional brick and mortar retailers sit in all this? This week, a story emanating from Brisbane, Australia caught my eye about a specialist shop owner who was fed up with time wasters wandering into her shop, asking advice and browsing goods – only to leave without purchasing, presumably to find the same products online. She’s introduced a novel way of combatting this – a $5 levy on all entrants to the store, which is deducted off the bill if they proceed to purchase anything.

    Most would argue that, if anything, this will simply reduce footfall into her store – particularly when it comes to advice (a quick Google of ‘celiac disease diet advice’ returns over 9.3m results), however it does illustrate the lengths traditional shop owners are now willing to go to try and combat the change in buyer behaviour that the ecommerce boom has bought about.

    Earlier this month, Forbes published 5 trends driving traditional high street retail to extinction which include long established retail institutions relying more on online sales, the growing offer of ‘free delivery, free returns’ now offered by online retailers and the general laziness of consumers (who wants to be seen ‘out and about’ these days!?).

    We are all too familiar nowadays of our increasing views of our high streets looking more and more like run-down shanty towns as traditional independent shops and even established chains are sadly forced to close their doors, partly due to the growth in online retail. But all is not lost… the emergence of vintage fashion, for example, has given some store owners a new lease of life as although available online, customers prefer to still sift through clothes racks to find those unique hidden gems, and (being vintage) sizing something up in a fitting room.

    Nelson (a small Lancashire market town selected as a Portas Pilot) held its first art and vintage market late last year, and benefited from 3,000 visitors in one day.

    Perhaps the shift in consumers online is an opportunity for high streets to start thinking outside the box, like Nelson, and get back to the basics of traditional retail in an inventive way? Now that really would be vintage!

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