As a child watching Steven Spielberg’s depiction of the future in Back to the Future part 2 there were many ideas that seemed in the realms of possibility. Flying cars, hoverboards and Nike Air Kicks that were self-lacing! However one prediction that Spielberg didn’t include was the slow decline of the high street store! In defence these last few months have brought some quite unpredictable events especially the folding of HMV a cornerstone of the music and audio market and the British high street. Along with other major retailers like Blockbusters, Jessops, Comet, JJB, GAME, Habitat and Peacocks, HMV is another victim of retailers who have gone into administration in the past year. And with all these casualties it’s hardly surprising that online retailers like eBay are announcing increases in sales and revenue
Studying consumer habits in the last 20 years (about the birth of www.) it’s clear what’s happening. Online shopping has vastly become the preferred method, especially for generation Y & Z. Whether it’s the convenience of making your purchase from the comfort of home or the significance that a cheaper deal can usually be found online, it’s clear that to survive in today’s market, companies have to seriously consider their online presence. For instance why didn’t Blockbuster push more for online streaming and rental when clearly Netflix and Lovefilm were so popular?
Getting your brand online is all well and good but now companies also need to consider the store from a digital marketing & search perspective as recent study shows that two in every five visits to online retailers now come from a search engine. With this in mind would a CEO of a company understand keywords driving traffic? Would they be aware of how to ensure the website is optimised for their target terms? Would they be aware of the fine line between black hat and white hat tactics? Good news for SEO companies and digital marketing companies alike! However there is something rather upsetting about the demise of the high street store, there will never be a digital changing room! Rest assured.
Where did it all go wrong? In this case, did HMV really need stores any more? Other major players seemed to have got on just fine with a well optimised site which catered perfectly for its users. Did they really grasp the new consumer trends around them? The concept of pre-owned products seemed to pass them by as well as the much newer trend of consumers being comfortable with not actually owning the content themselves (via subscription format).
So what do I predict of the high street? Some business will always be a standard regardless of the internet. Restaurants, hairdressers and opticians if anything the high street looks like it could revert to a place of simpler times perhaps.
Where will we be when Marty Mcfly finally arrives in 2015? As the web grows and becomes more sophisticated upcoming features that should be highlighted like Facebook now launching the free calling feature for IPhone users, could this be a concern for mobile networks? Surely not! Search engines and cookies tracking our search habits mean it’s now been easier than ever before for online companies to give us what we want regardless if we are searching for it or not.
Innovation and research is the key to a longstanding and successful business and for many retailers on the high street improving your digital strategy might be your only way through these tough economic times.