Online retailers going offline and opening physical outlets can only be good for sector innovation and diversity. When we’ve worked with pure-plays that go high-street we’ve noticed that they tend not to come with any ‘baggage’ and bring a fresh enthusiasm for the channel as well as an inherent understanding of how technology can facilitate both retail experience and customer service. On the flip-side, they can often struggle to understand the dynamics and possibilities of physical spaces, but going offline gives these businesses a huge opportunity to become more emotionally connected brands.
Simon Liss, head of connected retail & leisure, 20.20
There are 2 things online retailers can bring to our high streets. Firstly, innovation; a freshness and nimbleness of approach and (I would hope) a total disregard for the conventions of ‘boxes on shelves’. The second is the best from the web; reviews and recommendations, personalization and pricing and a real time approach to retailing. However, the big question is not ‘what’ but ‘why’? I believe it’s the reason the physical act of shopping will never die – it is simply the most powerful and visceral experience a brand can have with its consumer.
Stuart Wood, co-founder and creative director, Missouri Creative
Online retailers have a totally different approach and mindset to traditional store-based retailers and so they will bring a lot of fresh and exciting thinking to the high street and help re-invent it, which is what is needed. Bonobos Guideshops have demonstrated how an online retailer can deliver new customer service standards with its one to one appointments while the partnership between eyewear brand Warby Parker and in-store analytics startup Nomi has highlighted how the company’s desire to track the customer journey offline is just as keen as their online efforts. The beauty of the coming together of online and offline is that customer engagement will be firmly placed at the heart of the debate again.
Ibrahim Ibrahim, managing director, Portland
Online retailers have a plethora of data at their finger tips, based on historic customer purchase patterns. This enables a true understanding of their customer base, which ensures that when they enter the high street market, it is where their products and services are relevant to the socioeconomic make up of a host community. Such intelligence should prevent failure, but more importantly as each community is unique, so too will become the local high street. Out with the ubiquitous high streets of the past and in with refreshing individual and relevant high streets of the future… Long live the high street.
Nigel Collett, creative director, RPA
I’d love to see the contradiction of the brand ‘Not on the High Street’ hit the high street. When something like this happens we’ll see a complete ever-changing product range of unique, boutique personalisation that will engage customers and make shopping more of an event than a past time.
Steve James-Royle, owner, The Yard