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Balancing bricks with clicks

Thursday January 24 2013

In light of the demise of retailers Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster, e-commerce data expert Guy Mucklow discusses a sad, but also what he sees as an inevitable, week for British retail

In light of the demise of retailers Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster, e-commerce data expert Guy Mucklow discusses a sad, but also what he sees as an inevitable, week for British retail

 

This month, the UK retail market was rocked by the closure of three major household names: Blockbuster, Jessops and HMV, which all fell into administration within the first 16 days of 2013.

 

Nearing the end of a tragic two months for the UK High Street, which also saw Comet’s demise in December 2012, Guy Mucklow of Postcode Anywhere believes these casualties are an important wake up call for retailers not become complacent when it comes to balancing their store-based ‘bricks’ business with the ‘clicks’ that lead to sales online.

 

Exceeding customer expectations

 

Mucklow, who is chief executive of the address validation web services and software company, told Retail Technology: “The internet isn’t killing the High Street; it’s simply altering customers’ expectations. The failure of these well-known brands is solely down to failing to adapt to changing consumer preferences. The new generation of ‘always-on’ consumers are empowered by a world of unlimited choices, accessible anytime and anywhere. This means that retailers need to be more innovative than ever before to stimulate sales and preserve margins.

 

“The perception is often that consumers are turning their backs on the High Street when, in fact, the modern consumer wants to shop in a variety of different ways, without giving up on any one method. Getting it right, however, is definitely an art and not a precise science.”

 

Mucklow warned: “Retailers can no longer afford to rely solely on shoppers buying from their physical store. A successful offering is likely to see retailers expanding and strengthening their traditional offering into a multichannel approach, incorporating both mobile and social commerce in order to provide new avenues to convert sales, while also benefiting from the competitive pricing of services such as ‘click and collect’. It’s not a case of ‘either/or’ when it comes to physical stores and e-commerce.”

 

Complementary multichannel strategy

 

He continued: “It would be unfair to suggest that Blockbuster didn’t attempt to tackle the online market – its DVD rental service was launched online only just last year. However, as with HMV, the company simply waited far too long to jump on the online bandwagon in an already crowded market place. Consequently both sites were publically flogged for poor customer service and website usability.

 

“There’s no doubt that technology is the key driver for change in the retail market; from self-service checkouts in a local supermarket, through to being able to ‘try on’ jewellery using an augmented reality mobile application. But none of this matters without a well placed and user friendly e-commerce site to provide a strong basis for retail success,” Mucklow concluded. “Online should work in harmony with the High Street store – not hinder it.”