Questions have been asked of the high street’s future for years, with many people (prematurely) mourning its death and crowning online shopping the king of retail in its place.
But it looks like the tide is finally changing, and it’s all thanks to the champions of e-commerce who’re now taking their super-successful internet-based businesses to the next level by launching bricks-and-mortar shops.
Take Amazon, for example, which last year opened a physical bookstore in Seattle.
Meeting customer demand
The reason for this seismic shift in how businesses are viewing the high street is simple – it’s what their customers want.
Whilst people love the convenience of online shopping, when it comes to handing over money, face-to-face interactions still hold a lot of sway.
In response, savvy retailers are integrating the two, offering a seamless online service and a real bricks-and-mortar base where their loyal customers can get to know their brand and services in person.
So that you can follow suit, we’re sharing a few top tips for making sure your retail business keeps up with the changing industry and consumer demands. Take a look.
#1: Save money on your high street base
Whilst it's easy for multi-national giants like Amazon to find room in their budgets for expensive, experimental bricks-and-mortar stores, it’s not so simple for you. With lower overheads and running costs, an online shop has always been the cheapest business model.
But believe it or not, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the best of both worlds. You just need to be shrewd when it comes to picking the right high street base and only rent somewhere you can definitely afford.
Start the search for premises online using a database like Shop Property and, whether you’re looking for a shop to let in London or Glasgow, you’ll quickly find the best option within your price range.
#2: Optimize your website
Nowadays, regardless of whether you’re looking to find the best Indian takeaway or the latest pair of running shoes, you’ll no doubt turn to Google for the answer – and your customers are the same.
Consumers are doing their research online, so if you want them to buy your products or visit your store then your website needs to pop up in their search results.
Boosting the visibility of your business isn’t easy, but if you invest time and money into search engine optimisation (SEO) then it can be done. Either hire an external digital marketing firm to handle it for you or learn the basics yourself through the hundreds of free tutorials and blogs available online.
#3: Invest in state-of-the-art technology
Technology has already altered the way we browse and buy in physical stores (self-serve checkouts and contactless payments are the new norms, after all), and smart retailers are now using it to integrate their online and offline shops.
From iBeacons to interactive Augmented Reality apps, there are tons of different tech-based ways to enhance and streamline your customer’s shopping experience, both in-store and online.
Don’t try to do it all at once, though. Stick to a budget, focus on one innovation at a time and only ever invest in technology you know will work for your business.
Are you currently trying to integrate your e-commerce site and bricks-and-mortar shop? Do you have any other advice for business owners looking to do the same? Leave a comment and let us know.