The High Street 2013

So an interesting conversation is happening on my Facebook at the moment, with the news that HMV are talking with administrators and the likelihood being that, come the morning, the company will indeed be in administration, we started to discuss the state of the high street. Points were raised that the high street is going to look a very different place soon, less shops more cafés, more mini cinemas etc… With the coming of the digital shopping age I tend to agree with these points, however it doesn’t have to be this way. HMV failed to jump on-board the digital bandwagon, there are many things they could have done to bring in revenue, they just stubbornly stayed with the traditional model and thus they are where they are today.

For me the modern day high street store needs to not be the huge profit centre that head offices across the globe expect. They need to be customer retention centres… Now I don’t mean the after sales service style of customer retention, I am talking about the pre sale customer retention.

How can you retain someone who’s not a customer yet? Simple, a customer walks into a store and sees a screw driver set for example, the cost is £20 in store, this price is higher due to the overheads of the shop, that is expected, however this customer isn’t in a hurry, he/she knows they can get it online cheaper (£11) so they look at it, decide to purchase and then go home and buy it on Amazon or wherever for a cheaper price. The shop the customer was in failed to retain that potential customer. The money went to another company…

Now rewind that scenario, the customer walks in sees the screwdriver set and decides to buy it online, goes to put it down but sees a sticker on the box saying “scan me I’m cheaper online” looking around the customer sees a kiosk in the shop, he/she takes the set and scans it, puts in their address and pays using chip and pin paying the cheaper online price. Now, that customer has saved money buying online AND here is the important bit, the original company gets the money. The customer goes away satisfied they have saved some money too and is thus more likely to reuse the store he/she is in.

Meanwhile the customer needing the screwdriver set instantly can come into the shop and buy it off the shelf.

I for one, have been in shops where I have scanned bar codes of products with the Amazon app on my phone and purchased the item cheaper while standing in the store still holding that product. If there had been a way to do that paying my money to the shop I was in I would have done that, I am not fussed who I buy it from, I just want the best price and a convenient shopping experience.

The traditional high street store can be saved but only if companies wise up and modernise…

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