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The consumer shift, does the high-street fully utilise EPoS?

Posted 24 June Josef Hoccom

It seems daily we see news bulletins about big brands struggling in the current retail market. The Arcadia Group, House of Fraser, BHS, Debenhams and HMV, have all publicly struggled with obtaining a high street presence. This being a result of consumer habits changing from instore to online. Companies also wish to embrace a technological change but are struggling to make that connection between a refreshed brand identity, footfall in store and losing out to gargantuan trendy online brands.

It’s proven that technology increases sales and with technological advances moving at a rocket’s pace, retailers now must make the change to stay current.

Fast forward a few years into an increasingly cashless society, technologies like Contactless and ApplePay have become the norm. We are now frustrated if we can’t do this simple action. Heaven forbid, we must rummage through our wallets to find actual cash! We expect tech to do a simple run of the mill tasks but also expect it to deliver a higher level of experience. This, in turn, persuades us where to spend our hard earn cash.  

It’s interesting to me that I as a consumer have changed the way I interact with technology over the years. Now I find myself trawling Smartphone Apps for the latest trends in fashion, foods and homewares. Rather than hauling myself around the shops on a Saturday morning. That’s not to say I don’t love a good browse; it’s just the way things have diversified.

When I do go shopping, I see the product on display or via digital media, I use my phones scan function to identify an item and then put it in my ‘virtual’ shopping cart. I might contemplate for a few days as to whether it’s an investment or just a fancy of the moment. I might then visit the store again, check other retailers for the best price, confirm it’s the right decision, maybe wait until sale day, and then complete the final purchase with the tap n’ scan of my thumbprint. The fact that technology must keep up with all this demand means that companies must remain ahead of the game. Our consuming habits have become a multi-channel, virtual, technological mashup. Companies must keep our attention all the way or else they could potentially lose the sale.

I think that many retailers are struggling to embrace technology as fast as consumers have. Companies have either left it too late to readdress their brand and incorporate an immersive integrated shopping experience or have tried processes which just fall at the wayside. Many companies have opted for a ‘click and collect’ stand which strives to secure the sale in the online world. But is this really that interesting for a more tech-savvy trendy audience? We have seen the development of store concepts like Amazon Go and 7Fresh in China where their whole brand is based on enhanced experience by utilising technology.


The question is, how big is the challenge for retailers. Will we really see our high street completely disappear because they just can’t keep up? However, it may not all be doom and gloom for the Highstreet. It can be argued that there are now two camps of consumers. The nostalgic consumer that loves everything about the shopping experience and they are die-hard high-street frequenters and the virtual consumer that just want the product or service there and then and have little or no interest in the experience.

My argument is there is a third camp which has evolved from taking the best of everything. Yes, I want a service to offer me the simplicity of online purchasing whilst I’m at home. But I also want to continue to enjoy destination shopping and visiting a new store concept. There’s something charismatic about stumbling on the item and going home with it, and this is what lacks in the cyber world, it’s not as spontaneous.  Virtual and reality that intertwine and deliver a great experience. Is there the innovative technology out there to match my demands. Is it realistic for companies to adopt all these services before it’s too late for bricks and mortar?

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