I’ve been speaking to many retailers about their biggest challenges. There seems to be an increasing acceptance that the internet is changing the high street. Consumers are less likely to physically handle goods i.e. buy something from a physical retail store and take it back home. Increasingly in the long term, items such as CDs, books, electrical and electronic goods will slowly disappear from the high street. Similarly, service oriented retailers such as travel agents will also move online. There will be a significant restructuring of the high street. However, fashion stores will always be physical stores. High street would become more about acquisition of services e.g. dentists, health and beauty stores, chemists, food and drink.
We can see a similar trend if we look abroad to Scandinavia where broadband penetration has always been high and small populations and taxation make man-power expensive. Walk down the city centre in Copenhagen and you’ll be hard pressed to see an electronics store. Instead, you will see an endless array of fashion chains and boutiques and cafes.
Retailers will respond. They will more fiercely manage their online presence, offer a more differentiated product mix and improve in store experiences. What does this mean for mobile commerce? For over a year, shoppers have been taking advantage of smartphones to compare prices in store. QR codes as marketing tools have become commonplace on magazines and in store despite doubts over their effectiveness. NFC is gaining momentum although phone penetration remains low. Plethora of mobile payment solutions continue to gain interest and yet confuse at the same time.
Rightly, retailers remain keen to partner and experiment.