The office for National Statistics (ONS), defines ecommerce as: “the sale or purchase of goods or services, conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving or placing of orders”.
As we enter into a new year, and the evolution of technology continues to expand, more consumers are shopping online, fuelling the power of ecommerce to grow ever stronger. According to ONS figures, in 2016, total e-commerce sales reached £511 billion, up from £503 billion in 2015; and entering 2018, the increase in demand for ecommerce consumerism is predicted to continue to grow.
Recognising their fearful competition, high-street retailers are grasping at new and innovative ways to retain their once loyal, now dwindling, consumer allegiance.
And with ecommerce and the digitisation of consumer purchases growing impressively year on year, high street retailers know that they now have to literally fight to stand their ground, if they are to remain as solid competitors within this harsh ‘climate of convenience’.
Official 2016 ONS statistics showed that UK e-commerce sales of retail and wholesale sectors were valued at £58.8 billion and £36 Billion respectively; and with such high demand within these sectors online, it is no surprise that high-streets have begun to take-stock of what they keep in-store for their captive consumer audience.
Retailtainment – Quite literally: retail marketing as entertainment, is a trending term that refers to a literal smorgasbord of delights promised to consumers, if they physically visit their high street stores; a tasteful array, which can include, but is by no means at all limited to a mixture of exclusive product give-aways, and the use of virtual and augmented reality.
Retailtainment is most importantly about high-street stores aiming to provide consumers with a multi-dimensional experience, moreover just their brand or products alone.
Stores which have actively engaged in this new immersive trend, include John Lewis. A high-end retailer, renowned for their quality and diverse choice of products, offered consumers who wished for something ‘more’ what they titled: ‘The Residence’ – a shopping experience like no other, which not only allowed the consumer to peruse and purchase items from, but to also stay overnight in, their exclusive in-store, fully-furnished, boutique apartment.
Less lavish, but just as engaging; 2017 saw Oxford Circus Topshop celebrate their limited-edition, trending television series ‘Stranger Thing’s’ branded clothing line, by recreating interactive scenes from the hit show; whilst other stores – fast-fashion retailer Misguided, installed eye-catching in-store decor, to appeal to the snapchat generation, boosting social media interactions for their brand, whilst simultaneously enabling their consumers to achieve a greater sense of involvement from their high-street retail experience.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium for 2017 showing inflation-hit households cutting back on overall spending, opting for online shopping, taught retailers that as online shopping continues to be increasingly customer centric, implementing interactivity and creativity is now imperative to successfully piquing the interest of the consumer enough to lure them off the sofa and away from the online stores, to their physical stores which remain on the High-Street.
A sharp contrast between sales made in-store and online, as an increasing number of shoppers continue to seek out internet deals was represented by additional figures from Deloitte, which showed a rise in the number of retailers going into administration in 2017 for the first time in five years.
This increase in consumer demand continues to impact upon the vital logistics processes involved with ecommerce including: one-day delivery options, delivery lockers, and last mile delivery, to name but a few; fuelled by the rise of digital platforms, and in turn, consumers’ increasing control over their online purchasing power.
As trends which were emerging in 2017, are predicted to be ever more popular in 2018 and beyond; and whilst the high-street store is not yet extinct; retailers have certainly come to question how much longer consumers will continue to view visiting the high-street, an adequate retail experience within its own right; and how the future of logistics as we know it, will be impacted by the continued growth of ecommerce.