As veteran retailer Bill Grimsey prepares to release his report on retail in the UK, experts are calling for root and branch change to save Britain’s ailing high streets.
Following a three month investigation of Britain's high streets the report will state that there is an “arms race for new ideas” and that with a staggering 20,000 independent retailers on the brink of collapse, technical innovation and a radical overhaul of ugly town centres are the remedies. The report comes in response to what has been seen as the failure of a government flagship scheme fronted by retail guru Mary Portas to tackle the decline.
Dan Wagner, technology entrepreneur and CEO of Powa Technologies, which has implemented payment platforms for major brands and retailers such as Tesco, Superdrug, Laura Ashley and Heal’s, said: “The current retail environment is antiquated but the paradigm is shifting. The shopping experience on the High Street is usually very poor compared with the online environment, which is far more engaging and personalised.
“What you are beginning to see from certain retailers like the fashion brand Hollister however is a very different, attractive environment that drives consumers into stores. They have proven that the in-store dynamic can be changed dramatically and there is now an opportunity to create a different type of experience.
“New mobile technology offers another way of competing. Retailers will have to embrace new technology and new ways of operating if they want to survive. The stores themselves should have more flexible layouts with the ability to make purchases anywhere on the premises because convenience and immediacy have never been more important to customers. Shops should also be changing the ways they develop, present and distribute products as well as providing new ways to browse and ultimately pay for purchases. The challenge is for traditional shops to innovate and enrich the physical shopping experience in order to compete with online retailers. The High Street needs to evolve or die.”
mPowa uses a compact card reader which communicates with a mobile device via Bluetooth, enabling merchants to accept payments on the move wherever they are within the shop, claiming to boost productivity and convenience for businesses and consumers alike.