Can online shopping save the high street instead of destroying it?

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It appears more and more shops are disappearing, going into administration or struggling to stay afloat.

It has been revealed recently that one of North Staffordshire’s biggest shopping centre could face closure.

Roebuck shopping center in Newcastle, which has a number of popular high street shops still open like Dorothy Perkins, Card Factory and Clarks, has been put on the market with an auction guide price of £500,000.

Roebuck Shopping Centre in Newcastle

Property consultancy Allsop is auctioning off the building late this month and has suggested part of the building may be converted into student accommodation.

The auction will take place in London on May 20th. But at the moment high streets all across the country are struggling to keep their doors open.

Also fashion chain Select has gone into administration today for the second time, which could put 1,800 jobs at risk if the sale of the business isn’t settled soon. This is another in a line of long running high street stores that are at risk of disappearing from the high street all together.

Select Shop in Hanley image credit: Google Maps

Andrew Andronikou of advisory firm Quantuma said “Due to ongoing financial difficulties i can confirm that Brian Burke, Carl Jackson and I have been appointed joint administrators of Genus UK T/A Select.”

This year alone we have seen industry giants like Debenhams and LK Bennet call in the administrators on the back of other major shops like Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld which all closed in 2018.

Latest research from PwC (PricewatershouseCoopers) reveals a record net of 2,481 stores disappearing from the UK’s top 500 high streets in 2018- 40% more than in 2017.

The often-blamed culprit for the closure of stores always seems to fall into the ecommerce category as more and more people prefer shopping online. This is due to competitive pricing, discount codes and the overall cost of not running a bricks and mortar retail shop which seems significantly more desirable for most companies which then allows for cheaper selling prices.

Also, the offer of convenience delivery, which is often next day, is also a factor in which makes shopping online easier for the consumer.

But those factors alone aren’t enough for us to sit back and watch the death of the high street are they? After all there are many benefits of a well thought out physical high street shop, which helps to deliver sales and a good experience for consumers who prefer a bricks and mortar experience.

Bricks and mortar stores and eCommerce businesses that work closely together for mutual benefit could play a vital role in saving our high street, it seems it is not only more popular but also bad business to not have an eCommerce website as well in this new age of technology and online shopping.

The biggest setbacks for business’s who operate eCommerce website is returns, most retailers offer a free returns service which is convenient for people who don’t enjoy trying clothes on in store. But recently eCommerce giant ASOS came up with a strategy to curb customers from excessive ordering and returning by introducing a ban for serial returns offenders. which would mean deactivating customer’s accounts.

Image Credit:https://thetab.com/uk/2019/04/11/asos-is-blocking-accounts-that-have-a-high-return-history-and-people-are-mad-98134 The Tab. Tweet from ASOS customer.

But is that a bad move? If retailers and eCommerce companies could co-exist on the high street- where stores would allow returns to be made in their shops and consumers could try on their order and choose to return there and then.

This could be a way in which both brands could benefit whilst also keeping shops on the high street open. This would operate in a way like click and collect options that most companies offer now, but with the mostly online based stores having a way to connect with their customers on a more physical level.

Supermarket chain ASDA has recognised the benefits of this kind of connection between eCommerce and physical stores via their ‘to you’ service. Which allows consumers to return or collect purchases at its stores from far sighted third party online retailers, who they have partnerships with.

Asda ‘to you’ logo image credit: https://www.idealworld.tv/gb/toyou-returns

The high street needs to work with eCommerce to grow and prosper and vice versa as both off and online have strengths in the fast-evolving retail world.

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