For months, online retailers have had the edge over their bricks and mortar counterparts. Fast service, 24/7 purchasing, and home delivery have become the norm for many shoppers. Consumers have learned to adapt under Covid-19 restrictions with non-essential retail stores closed.
However, now that non-essential high street retailers are back to welcoming shoppers through their doors, the playing field will level out once again. Customers who turned to ecommerce during the pandemic are returning to the high street.
Take Primark as an example. With no ecommerce channel, the company has announced losses of around £1.1 billion in sales over the past six months. But pent-up demand is strong and the retailer expects a robust boost now stores are open.
Meanwhile, online giants such as Asos and Boohoo Group have accelerated their offerings and capitalised on the high street’s losses during the pandemic. Topshop has relaunched on Asos, and Boohoo Group snapped up Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton.
We’ve seen acquisitions galore, yet ecommerce is never going to be able to replicate the customer experience of physical stores. Browsing, picking up items, trying out products, enjoying face-to-face customer service, and benefiting from interactive services: these are experiences you can get in-store only.
The spring budget held more good news for bricks and mortar stores, with an extension to the business rates holiday.
Richard Johnson, co-founder of social commerce app MyStreet, said that consumers were keen to get back to the high street. Ongoing restrictions over the summer might mean shopping trips become more of an ‘occasion’, but, he predicts the transition back to physical stores will cause a decline in ecommerce sales – in the short term at least.
He added: “Digital transformation has accelerated and so it’s quite likely that a year on from non-essential shops being open, we’ll see a new way of shopping that sees much more of a balance between online and physical shopping.”
The high street was already struggling prior to the pandemic, so it’s vital retailers offer a consistent customer experience both online and in-store. Engaging customers will be less about new product offerings and more about investing in marketing to sell to a wider audience and stay ahead of the competition. By focusing more on the customer experience and enhancing the physical aspects of the consumer journey, retailers can give customers the convenience, interaction and journey to purchase they desire.
At Delta Group, we can help you better connect with your customers and take the consumer experience to the next level. Get in touch to find out more.