With more stores closing than opening, and with the only growth on the Great British high street coming from charity shops, bookies and cheque cashing outlets, now is the time for retailers to take control of their own destinies, says mobile commerce entrepreneur Dan Wagner, CEO of Powa Technologies.Research from PwC shows that high street shops are closing at a rate of 18 a day, so now is the time to act. Wagner argues that stores should focus on attracting customers back by embracing new technology and digital online shopping methods. “There is massive pressure on the high street at present and although many are being crippled by business rates, stores still have the responsibility to evolve with their customers,” Wagner explains. “Technology will be instrumental in the much-needed changes that have to take place if stores are to survive closure. But this must be accompanied by a change in the mind-set of those at the helm of the businesses. Only when shops make a conscious effort to do something innovative to reverse their fortunes can progress take place.” For instance, high street shops can make shoppers feel more valued by offering them bespoke services with personalised recommendations, as is already commonplace online. Mobile payments and the recently announced click-and-collect initiative between eBay and Argos represent two more ways that retail is changing, but much more needs to be done to bring shopping into the modern era.
“With forward-thinking retailers like the Apple Store pioneering a more informal, less linear shopping format that allows for browsing and purchasing to be interlinked there is already a huge change underway, but the rest of the high street needs to catch up,” Wagner concludes.
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