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Retail recovery remains fragile

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Although figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG show a modest 2.6 per cent increase in October, up from September’s 2.4 per cent. Growth remains weak and high street shops need to innovate and utilise new technology to ensure they maximise sales in the run up to Christmas.

If this sounds overly dramatic, a look at the figures confirms the bleak outlook. More shops are now closing than opening and any improvement this year has been made against the backdrop of 2012, which was the worst year ever for retailers. In 2012, 48,000 retail workers lost their jobs, 4,000 stores closed and 54 retailers went out of business. To prevent a repeat of this scenario retailers really need to up their game and commit to using technology to find new ways of engaging with their customers.

With the digital economy growing at seven times the rate of any other sector in the UK, traditional retailers need to overhaul how they do business if they want to keep up. Dan Wagner, the Chief Executive of ecommerce and mobile payment technology innovator Powa Technologies says that the High Street’s salvation lies in new technology.

He comments: “This is crucial time of year for the retail industry. More than ever before it needs a technology-driven revolution to create new ways to engage with customers as they gear up for the festive season. There are a variety of ways to achieve this including mobile point of sale (mPOS). Some retailers like the Apple Store have pioneered a more informal, less linear shopping format that allows for browsing and purchasing to be interlinked using mobile payment strategies. Tailoring shopping to the preferences of the consumer with bespoke recommendations that mimic the online experience is also a key way retailers can improve engagement.”

And as online orders are shipped in time for Christmas shoppers will be coming back to the High Street to collect their purchases from shops that participate in ‘click-and-collect’ initiatives. These opportunities are offering retailers another valuable chance for to engage with consumers and catch their eyes with offers and attractive displays.

Mobile point of sale however should be at the heart of any retail technology strategy. Its line-busting technology is especially helpful in crowded Christmas shops, improving the shopping experience by reducing waiting time and making the process more personalised. Powa’s mPowa mobile payment system uses a compact card reader, which communicates with a mobile device via Bluetooth, enabling merchants to accept payments on the move wherever they are within the shop, boosting productivity and convenience for businesses and consumers alike.

Dan Wagner concludes: “There is already a huge change underway on the High Street, but much more needs to be done to ensure our most loved retail brands survive. The festive season is the perfect time for retailers to transform the way they do business and propel themselves into the modern era.”

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