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Innovation can reverse the decline of the high street

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While online retail continues to go from strength to strength, the number of shoppers on the UK’s high streets declines. A fresh, innovative approach is required for bricks and mortar retailers to claw back some market share and ensure they survive this paradigm shift.

The online retail market recorded a rise between August and September of 13 per cent, according to figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, the highest growth for this period in the 13-year history of the IMRG, the UK’s online retail association.

Meanwhile, the footfall on UK high streets, shopping centres and out-of-town retail parks dropped 2.4 per cent, compared to the same month last year according to statistics from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The figures show that footfall on high streets dropped by five per cent from August, fell 2.1 per cent in shopping centres and was down 0.4 per cent in out-of-town retail parks.

Dan Wagner, Chief Executive of ecommerce and mobile payment technology innovator Powa Technologies, says the high street needs to reflect new ways people are shopping more closely and update the way it develops, presents and distributes products, providing solutions to browse and ultimately pay for purchases. 

Long an advocate for a more innovative, attractive and technology-led approach in traditional retail, he suggests a number of ways to reverse the worrying trend and inject some life back into the high street. 

“These figures demonstrate that a fresher approach, like that taken in shopping centres and retail parks can slow the attrition, but a real paradigm shift is what’s needed to reverse the decline”, said Wagner. 

“Shops must adopt new technologies and use innovative techniques to tempt reluctant consumers back through their doors. Learning from the success of the online retail trade and tailoring shopping to the individual preferences of the consumer, with customised recommendations, is one way to achieve this. ‘Click-and-collect’ initiatives between online retailers and stores is another; and conditions have never been more conducive for a mobile payment revolution to play its part too,”

Wagner concludes: “There is now a massive opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience and boost engagement in high street stores. Retailers should use these worrying statistics as the spur to add a next-generation platform infrastructure to support tablets, mobile phones and enhanced personalisation in their premises. 

“The number of ways that retailers can engage with their customers is increasing and mobile payment is playing a big part in this. It is one of the main ways shopping is changing for the better. Making payment more convenient and taking the transaction to the customer, wherever they are, really improves customer engagement and boosts sales. There is already a huge change underway on the high street, but much more needs to be done to bring shopping into the modern era.”

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