High Street is dead and it’s all your fault

HMVWithin a week three big and well established UK retail chains will more than likely disappear for good. For Jessops that’s already happened, for HMV and now Blockbuster it’s about to. It continues the trend from the last couple of years that the High Street is dying and dying fast, for goods that can be sold and consumed via the Internet will destroy your physical business presence.

Music, film, games, electronics, clothing, white goods, food, furniture; they are all available online and in most cases cheaper and instantly available or delivered next day.

And it’s all your fault.

As a society we are programmed to hunt bargains now, compare prices and go for the cheaper and convenient option. How many times have you wandered into a store only to check via a mobile app where you could get an item cheaper ?

We flock to the sales and rub our hands with glee at the (perceived) bargains to be had with just a small nagging voice in our heads that the retailer is about to go broke but it doesn’t stop us. And when the Closing Down Sale banners are erected the locusts descend and it’s only when the shop is bare and the doors finally close do we wake from the frenzy and realise the impact. Another failed business, another group of people out of work.

And it’s all your fault.

You failed to spot the trends in shopping habits, you didn’t bother to alter your retail experience and align with how consumers react and buy, you scoffed at creating a seamless experience between the high street and online, you didn’t bother to check whether prices elsewhere were cheaper than yours, you didn’t realise that people only visited your shop as a showroom and bought online. You couldn’t even be bothered creating an online presence; Twitter, eBay, Amazon and Facebook were jokes to you.

Or you completely ignored what common sense was telling you, that online would beat you into the ground but you were too stuck in your ways to listen. And now you stand with the keys to your shop, staring at the closed doors as the accountant and administrator breaths heavily behind you. The leasing agents can no longer rent out the shell you leave behind. Shopfitters are out of work. Retail staff move from shop to shop in search of work, limping from one future retail failure to another.

And it’s all your fault.

Shopping is changing rapidly. The internet has altered how consumers buy for good. We are a disposable society now, demanding and consuming goods and services at faster rates than ever before, retailers can’t keep up. Everything is moving online and instream. Physical presence is merely window-shopping for consumers who are fussy and want to try before they buy.

There’s little reason to have to pay business rates, overheads and staff costs when an online presence keeps them to a minimum and your processes and customer experience is rewarding. Customer service is changing rapidly to match. It’s all happening in virtual centres, pods of people taking and fulfilling orders and resolving complaints.

This is all nothing new and yet chains fail to react.

Hubris, arrogance, a feeling of invincibility. Companies fail for many reasons and there was probably a bit of all three involved with HMV but as I read today about Kodak selling off its valuable patents to stave off bankruptcy, I see many parallels with HMV.  A company which was overtaken by the march of technology faster than they could ever imagine and which by the time they started reinventing themselves and diversifying in to other areas, it was too late.

And finally traditionalist consumers will live in ghost towns filled with small convenience stores, specialist and creative  little outlets and local butchers. In some ways towns and villages will revert to what they once were, communities that support local business, people happy to shop for the essentials and creative and thoughful purchases, meet their neighbours and chat about the weather. In person.

The High Street is dead and it’s all your fault. But it might not be such a bad thing after all.

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Categories: Loyalty, Marketing, Retail, Selling

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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