Preparing for the Future of Retail

The past few years have been a period of great upheaval for retailers, with the advent of the internet, and more recently mobile shopping changing the retail landscape forever. Between December 2008 and December 2018, internet sales increased from 5.8% to 20% of total retail sales in the UK, while the UK mobile commerce market is expected to double by 2022, reaching a total value of £243.7 billion.

Despite the fact that 81% of UK consumers believe brick and mortar shops are still vital to the shopping experience, it’s clear that where once an established high street presence was the only necessary ingredient for success, shoppers now expect to be able to browse and purchase via an ever-growing range of channels.

A recent survey of top UK retailers commissioned by PushON has revealed that a worrying number of retailers are not actively preparing for the future, with 35% admitting to having no business transformation strategy in place for the rise of digital technology and changing consumer habits. Furthermore, it stated that 20% of them haven’t invested anything in developing the digital side of their business in the past year either. This would suggest that, despite the well-documented woes of the industry, including a recent string of high-profile high street brands falling into administration, a large number of retailers are still failing to take the need to evolve seriously.

As the survey was conducted as part of PushON’s ‘Preparing for the Future of Retail’ report, it also explores the front and back-end technologies that retailers should be, investing in right now as part of their digital transformation. Additionally, in order to examine the issue from a consumer perspective, PushON also surveyed consumers to establish whether retailers are investing in the digital developments that their customers really want. Concerningly, more than three quarters (77.1%) of respondents said that they don’t think the majority of retailers are doing enough to keep up with digital trends and changing consumer expectations.

Key findings from the report are:

  • The 35% of retailers without a digital transformation strategy in place need to start urgently planning for the future or risk losing customers to more forward-thinking competitors.
  • Retailers must invest in better, easier to use websites. This may require them to migrate to a more sophisticated platform.
  • Convenience is key. The most popular innovations are those which make consumers’ lives easier, from the checkout process through to returns.
  • Retailers should not neglect the in-store experience when it comes to digital transformation. Bricks
    and mortar stores are still an important part of the customer journey.
  • "Gimmicky" technologies like AR and VR are not yet a dealbreaker for consumers. This gives retailers time to focus on getting the basics of their digital transformation right first.
  • Although social shopping isn’t desired by all age ranges, it is most popular amongst 18-34s. Retailers must ensure they are catering for the preferences of this age group.
  • Retailers need to be preparing for the rise of mobile commerce. This includes improving their mobile app, optimising their site for mobile, and keeping a close eye on the advent of PWA (Progressive Web Apps).

To find out more about how retailers are preparing for the future