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What’s Happening in UK Retail - and Is Online Shopping Really to Blame?

What’s Happening in UK Retail - and Is Online Shopping Really to Blame?

The current turmoil in the UK retail sector is enough to startle any employee or business owner in this industry. As the tumbleweeds roll across forgotten, flagship stores, those involved are having to reconsider the need for a physical presence on the UK’s high streets. With huge progression in online shopping and customer engagement, it’s no wonder that more consumers are opting for a more convenient, digital experience.

As a result, a rising number of major retailers and restaurant groups have either applied for Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVA) or have gone into administration. Companies are struggling to meet the demands of higher wages, increasing costs and a rise in business rates. The recipe for high street success seems somewhat elusive when combined with unpredictable spending patterns, Brexit uncertainty and unexpected weather.

What’s causing the crisis?
Although there are many factors influencing this crisis – like rising business rates and the increasing cost of living – companies such as House of Fraser, Maplin and Toys R Us failed to align their physical stores with their online presence fast emough. Unlike John Lewis, for example, who have integrated the physical and online shopping experience using a number of web and social media tactics including Facebook ads. Other companies have been sluggish or have neglected online engagement, and this could have influenced their current woes. Having an online retail industry isn’t to blame; a lack of website optimisation, data integration and human resources stop companies from reaching out to customers successfully. This is where digital interaction becomes vital for those involved in UK retail: a generic website just won’t cut it anymore.

How to compete
Here at Webtrends, we provide Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) solutions that test web pages to see what content (page design, wording, layout) delivers greater engagement, better conversions and, ultimately, sales. By utilising easy to administer web attributes such as hello bars, exit intent and onsite retargeting, you can provide each customer with a different experience. Even if you don’t know exactly what to do, our intuitive interface makes it easy and support is on offer so that you don’t have to guess your way through the CRO maze. You can get to know more about your customers by analysing patterns of their online behaviour which can deliver unique experiences and a level of personalisation that is challenging in the physical customer journey. Sales and marketing teams do their best to understand customer needs but software solutions make this a consistent possibility. What if you didn’t even need to ask a customer what they need, but were able to provide a range of options as soon as they walk in store? This is the experience that many leading websites are currently offering, and it’s far more convenient than traipsing through numerous shopping centres for that perfect purchase.
Retail organisations that deliver online targeted shopping experiences are dominating the retail industry leaving others to fall by the wayside. Combining knowledge of consumer spending patterns, browsing history and relevant trends is the key to effective customer engagement.

You CAN have it both ways.
Online retail should not necessarily be considered as a significant negative influence in relation to the high street crisis. The perfect solution is to embrace advances in digital marketing and provide customers with a tailored shopping experience that exceed their expectations. Our response is simple: website optimisation that connects a customer’s physical journey in store with their online experience. Through website optimisation, visitors are able to identify their own needs, companies can better understand their market that will help drive customers to their physical stores, and the UK retail industry as a whole will be able to survive in an innovative, cross-channel environment.

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