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Retail and Hospitality

High street must change to survive

An overwhelming majority of UK consumers believe the high street must make drastic changes to survive in the face of online competition, says Manhattan Associates.

The research shows that shoppers are indicating their growing preference to shift away from the traditional channels of purchase.

An agile, sophisticated and efficient supply chain is a crucial part of facilitating the dynamic changes that will allow the high street to leverage their most important assets

Craig Sears-Black, Manhattan Associates
Nine in ten of the 1,000 shoppers surveyed think the high street will die without change. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

More than three quarters of shoppers admitted to purchasing products online after seeing them in the high street first, essentially turning these retailers into ‘showrooms’, and shoppers have the opportunity to search online for equivalent products at the lowest price available.

While figures like this seem to indicate a chronic shift to online channels, there are certain services brick-and-mortar shops can provide that simply cannot be replicated over the internet.

The dynamic of high street stores mean that customer service, speed and proximity are all positive qualities that can be capitalised upon, something reflected in Manhattan Associates’ research.

A personal approach and strong in-store support are features of service that are still highly thought of by customers, and shop assistants also bring benefits in fields like stock checking and personal advice according to the research.

The research says that one of the best ways retailers can improve in-store experience is to enhance the role of the shop assistants so that they provide added value across the consumer’s in-store experience.

Having a thorough understanding of the entire supply chain and an increase in inventory visibility across both the store and the supply chain network are all factors identified by Manhattan Associates as being beneficial to shop assistants in order to encourage purchases to be made in store.

Delivery times are also a factor that high street stores can capitalise on, with services such as click-and-collect and ship-from-store gaining popularity and unite the benefits of online shopping with the speed of high street shopping.

It is imperative that the right techniques and disciplines are used to make this process as efficient as possible if it is to rival online shopping and be of benefit to bricks-and-mortar retailers.

“Making changes to the back-end processes to meet changing customer demands will allow the high street to both survive and thrive,” said Craig Sears-Black, UK managing director, Manhattan Associates. “An agile, sophisticated and efficient supply chain is a crucial part of facilitating the dynamic changes that will allow the high street to leverage their most important assets once more.”

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