Using technology to revive the High Street

The growth of online retail and resulting decline in the High Street has been well documented. Online retail’s impact has ultimately had an effect on the once thriving communities that previously relied on footfall from retail traffic.

Shopping habits have also changed considerably as a result of online retail. For example, show rooming is now a common practice in stores with an estimated 73% of US customers according to ‘The Future Stores 2014 State of Brick and Mortar Report’ browsing an item in a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop without purchasing it, then buying the same item online at a cheaper price.

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So how can bricks and mortar retailers encourage customers to spend with them?

The battle between in-store shopping and online shopping has centred on the advantages of price and accessibility online, vs the physical experience of trying items and gaining advice from shop assistants in-store.

In-store is also well positioned to exploit the Achilles heel of online shopping; delivery. According to E-consultancy’s Multichannel Retail Survey in 2013; 50% of survey respondents said that they had abandoned a purchase because of unsatisfactory delivery options.

Online retailers are now beginning to experiment with fixed time delivery and next day options are more commonplace. However, in-store can also address its weaknesses by providing a connected experience. In-store WiFi can offer much more than just free access to the internet; it can level the playing field in the online vs in-store battle.

Using WiFi combined with location based services and analytics, the store can build an unprecedented level of insight into consumer behaviour and opportunities to engage customers directly. This is achieved by geo-fencing the shop/venue floor, drawing invisible lines around favourite sales areas or locations to monitor footfall and accurately optimise space, displays and digital signage.

This allows the business to gauge what purchases the customer might be considering, reference this against loyalty card behaviour and send relevant information or offers in real time (by email or SMS) delivered to the shopper’s device at the moment they are looking at an item or in a specific area.

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Additionally retailers can track usage of each subscriber should they wish to allow it. Invaluable data can then be collected such as email, location, gender and age. The data means that subscribed customers can be further rewarded with the coupons and vouchers best suited to their preferences.

This can be further used to reward loyal customers who visit frequently to create a more personal aspect for the shopper, as the business shows they understand the offers their customers want.

Retailers are a prime user of this service as Purple WiFi also allows users to gain free access to a public WiFi network through their existing social media accounts or a short form. The user gets access to family friendly WiFi, while the retailer is rewarded with valuable analytic insights into the profiles and movements of their customers and a sophisticated built-in marketing platform.

By introducing cost-effective technology solutions, bricks and mortar retailers can regain market share against online retailers and accentuate their points of differentiation.

This is a great insight by Gavin Wheeldon, and to learn more about WiFi we recommend visiting Purple WiFi. Gavin has 15 years experience working in technology led or enabled businesses, he has a deep understanding of the impact of technology on the bottom line of an organisation. Having recently sold his last business, Applied Language Solutions, a global language technology and services business, he set up So Purple Group with the prime focus on building an enterprise guest WiFi system that was end user friendly.

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