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High street stores to adopt new role in online world

18 April 2013 - 09:54 by Mike Price

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A study conducted by Rakuten, the company which owns e-commerce outlets such as Play.com, has found that high street retailers expect to experience further changes in the role that they play going forwards.

InternetRetailing reports that the study found only seven per cent of retailers are predicting sales increases in 2013, with almost two thirds bracing for a dip in consumer activity at bricks and mortar outlets.

Rakuten's Adam Stewart said that because of declining sales, many high street retailers are expecting to see a major alteration in their role, as more customers choose to make purchases via safe shopping online.

Stewart pointed out that while the high street was facing problems, it still offered something that e-commerce could not, which was a tangible retail experience, which allows consumers to physically engage with products before they commit to making a purchase.

This could ultimately lead to a situation in which high street outlets become showrooms for e-commerce retailers. Basically, consumers would be able to head to a store and get to grips with an item, before heading home and ordering it through safe shopping online.

For people who now make most of their purchases from e-commerce sites, this may well sound like a familiar scenario. In fact some retailers are concerned about the trend of 'showrooming,' but Stewart believes that they need to embrace it if they want to survive.

Three quarters of the retailers questioned in the study said that selling to overseas markets was something that they saw as important in the long term, which is why the adoption of e-commerce is deemed to be necessary, since it helps break down boundaries and pave the way for international access.

Retailers also revealed that email was still the most common way to engage with customers, pushing Facebook and Twitter onto the back burner.