Bricks Over Clicks

It’s been a long week at work – I can’t face the onslaught of Saturday sale shoppers in town but impromptu dinner plans with friends tomorrow are calling for a new dress.

Three years ago, I would be sharpening my elbows and steeling myself for battling through the Glastonbury-style crowds to scour the high street. But its 2016 – No thanks! I pick up my smartphone and log into a popular photo-sharing app for inspiration.

Scrolling through, I come across my favourite blogger ‘@StreetStyle’ and decide that clearly the secret to my future happiness is the ownership of the exact dress in her recent post and I need it… NOW! @StreetStyle instructs her followers to “tap for credits” which I do, and I follow the links through to the brand website and locate a list of stockists. Result! The dress is featured on the websites of three department stores in town. I compare prices online, select the best one and arrange for next day ‘click and collect’.

When I arrive at the store, my happiness is already waiting for me on a hanger in the sumptuous private shopping area. I try on the dress, it fits like a glove and the sales assistant recommends the perfect pair of heeled pumps to match. I take the dress and pay for the shoes using contactless pay on my mobile.

As I walk back to my apartment, I pass a digital billboard that beams a personalised advertisement for a clothing retailer inviting me to scan a QR code for a bespoke offer – 10% off my next online purchase. That’s next weekend’s outfit sorted then…

Unfortunately, I am not yet blessed with the riches that afford me the opportunity to shop in ’sumptuous private shopping areas’ and neither am I particularly good with computers and gadgets, but all of the technology listed above is already in existence and will soon become a standard.

We live in a world where discerning shoppers are driving the retail norm with a heightening expectation for a convenient and smooth shopping experience. So with a growing population of cyber-men reluctant to step away from their screens and venture outside, how does the humble retailer entice customer’s in-store? How is a ‘bricks a mortar’ presence relevant today?

With a 44.9% forecasted growth in online retail spending over the next five years and the rise of e-tailers such as Amazon and Etsy.com fuelling the growth of lean and driven SMEs, e-commerce has never been so competitive. With price comparison just one click away, savvy retailers are now driving brand awareness and loyalty through unique, in-store customer experiences to compliment their online offering and differentiate themselves from the competition.

This month, O2 have opened a new superstore on Manchester’s Market Street. They have interactive window displays controlled from the street by a customer’s handset, a sleek industrial-feel interior and staff are awarded for excellent customer service over hitting sales targets. This 2,500sqft retail space serves as a perfect example of how a high street presence can act as a complimentary extension of the internet.

With Ocado reportedly considering retail space to showcase their cosmetic offerings and the successful homeware online retailer Made.com opening physical showrooms it seems that best retail offering is one that engages with customers on a physical level and embraces the industry watchword: ‘omni-channel’.

Successful takeover bids and boardroom exits; the early weeks of the New Year have been remarkably eventful with news rippling through the industry at a rapid pace. With shopping habits changing and new players emerging, 2016 looks set to another eventful year.

Foundation Recruitment has continued to grow year-on-year and we predict that the next 12 months will be no different. So, whether you are looking for the best people or the best Retail and Leisure Property opportunities in 2016, we’d love to hear from you!

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